Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Ursula Macfarlane
Stars: Paul Joseph Fronczak, Dora Fronczak, Chester Fronczak
By Peggy Marie
What if one day you woke up and realized you really didn’t know who you were? You didn’t know your real name, your birthday, or how old you just might be — how would you feel? Would you want answers to these questions and more? Well, director Ursula Macfarlane takes on just this exact question with her documentary “The Lost Sons,” one of the incredible documentaries showing at SXSW Online 2021.
The documentary focuses on Paul Joseph Fronczak, who grew up, as he puts it, “in a great family” and had a wonderful childhood until his 10th birthday. As he secretly searches for his presents, he finds newspaper articles with his mom and dad on the front page — with headlines such as “Baby Hunt Drags on in a Sad City.” As he reads through various articles about a baby kidnapped straight out of his hospital crib one day after he was born, he realizes he just might be that kidnapped baby … or is he. His mother, Dora Fronczak and father, Chester Fronczak, push the narrative that he is their kidnapped son, and that is that. For a while, at least.
This journey is probably one of the most remarkable things to follow, as it has more twists and turn than most feature thrillers, and as astonishing as it is, it’s all true. After the kidnapping, Paul was “found” 15 months later in Newark, New Jersey, where a foster family had named him Scott until the FBI supposedly put two and two together and decided he was the missing baby from Chicago.
It turns out he is neither Scott nor Paul — but he is Jack, and that’s the trail for much of the film. Paul, through an Ancestry.com test, finds out who he is really is and who his family really was. It’s a absolute mind-bender of a journey that will at some points make you laugh, cry, and shock you to your core.
Back when this story first appeared in the news, it was on every channel around the world. People reached out that had been neighbors, friends of the family, and even a babysitter. While they try to fill in some of the blanks, it seems some will just never be known. There is a price to pay for finding out the truth, though, and Paul pays dearly throughout his life in various ways: from losing contact with his family to a divorce to realizing he has always been searching for something and probably always will be.
Review Screening courtesy of SXSW Film Festival and DDA PR