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To the Moon and Back
Miles Harrison, an ordinary American from Virginia adopts a beautiful orphan boy from Russia. Meanwhile, Bill Browder, a billionaire investment banker seeks justice for his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky who is killed after exposing corruption in the Russian government. The actions of both men cause  the Russian Adoption Ban. Thousands of Russian orphans, many with disabilities, now have no hope of being adopted. Hundreds of U.S. adoptive parents are forced to live with the guilt of betraying their commitments and are unable to realize their dream of becoming a family.
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To the Moon and Back

Running Time
85 minutes

To the Moon and Back

In 2008 Miles and Carol Harrison from Virginia adopt Dimitri a beautiful blue eyed orphaned boy from Russia. When Dimitri tragically dies after Miles accidentally leaves him behind in a car, the Harrisons’ world falls apart. Their precious baby is gone. Miles is put on suicide watch. They must face a grueling trial where Miles is accused of manslaughter.They are vilified by neighbors and are trapped in their house by a swarm of press. The deep love they have for each other is the only thing that keeps them hanging on.

In 2009  in Russia, an honorable tax lawyer is imprisoned and tortured after he uncovers a quarter of a billion tax fraud in the Russian government . When the lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky dies at 37 after a brutal beating, his employer, Bill Browder, an investment banker with a $4.5 billion portfolio in Russia,feels responsible. Had Magnitsky not worked for him, he would still be alive. Browder determines to bring the perpetrators of this human rights crime to justice and takes Magnitsky’s family to Washington  to plead their case. He wants  the U.S. to impose sanctions on the perpetrators of Magnitsky’s death. But U.S. relations with Russia are tenuous and politicians are reluctant to rock the boat. Browder, however is relentless and after years of campaigning receives worldwide support.

On Dec 14th 2012 Obama signs  The Magnitsky Law which refuses visas to any official involved in Magnitsky’s death while also freezing their assets in the U.S.

On Dec 28th 2012 , to punish the U.S., Putin signs The Adoption Ban  …banning American parents from ever adopting Russian orphans .

Putin signs the law in the name of the Harrisons’ son Dimitri.

Miles and Carol are destroyed , feeling guilt and blame for the blockage .The lives of hundreds of orphans and the adoptive U.S. parents they’ve grown to love are now without hope.

Meanwhile, Miles Harrison and Bill Browder become enemies of the state in Russia and are linked in a political chess game between Obama and Putin.

Filmmaker Notes:

When I read the Pulitzer prize winning article, ‘Fatal Distraction’ in The Washington Post, I contacted the parents in the story. Would they be prepared to open up an old wound to prevent other parents from making the same mistake? I asked my cinematographer, Quyen, who had a toddler herself, to read the article. She knew there were no funds and I would have to finance this myself yet Quyen immediately said, ‘I’m in’. So she., my daughter, a photographer and I flew to Russia to film….taking on the subject of Putin’s Adoption Ban not knowing what to expect, yet determined that this story had to be told.

Meeting so many American adoptive families, I was inspired by their love and dedication to the Russian orphans they had chosen to adopt. Many of these children have severe disabilities and face a life of no potential if left in Russian orphanages. These parents were unanimously prepared to make enormous personal sacrifices to change the life of a little orphan.

Jessica Long,our narrator, is perhaps the most successful Russian adoptee by American parents. Born 23 years ago with dysfunctional legs she is now a world class swimmer and a 12 time Paralympic Gold Medalist.
Every child deserves a family and a chance to make their dreams a reality.

Film details
Year(s) screened
  • 2016
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