Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America

Three families brought together and pushed apart by transracial adoption explore the implications of white parents adopting black children.

Film Signature Image
True Stories
Premiere Date
February 1, 2002
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
filmmaker Phil Bertelsen

Phil Bertelsen

Phil Bertelsen is an Emmy and two-time Peabody award-winning filmmaker based in New York City. He was Series Producer and Director of the 6-part documentary series Who Killed Malcolm X (Netflix). As a result of the investigative work and new evidence provided in the series, the Manhattan DA’s office is reviewing the decades old assassination case and Show more reconsidering the conviction one of the assassins. Prior to that he produced and directed a documentary special for NBC News called Hope and Fury: MLK, the Media and the Movement. Bertelsen is currently completing an independent feature documentary about a civil rights era photographer who was revealed to be an FBI informant. Bertelsen also directed a feature-length documentary special called Through The Fire: The Presidency of Barack Obama with Executive Producer Stanley Nelson and Firelight Media. His film School of the Future, made for the PBS science series NOVA, examines how science and technology are transforming the way students learn and teachers teach. He produced and directed multiple episodes of the Columbia-DuPont Award winning documentary series The African Americans--Many Rivers To Cross, hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and several episodes of Finding Your Roots. The PBS series, now in its sixth season, traces the genealogy of celebrated Americans. Previous work includes the award-winning Chisholm ’72; the feature documentary, Beyond The Steps about Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. His work has screened and broadcast internationally on PBS, MTV the Sundance Channel, Arte and Canal Plus. He has received support from the Ford Foundation; ITVS; National Black Programming Consortium and Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among others. He has also taught on the adjunct faculty at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism; The City College of New York, and at Temple University in Philadelphia. Prior to coming to New York, Phil helped launch public television station WYBE-TV in Philadelphia. He holds an M.F.A. in Film from New York University where he was a Spike Lee Fellow, and a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from Rutgers University in his native New Jersey. Show less


Katy Chevigny

Katy Chevigny is an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Big Mouth Productions. Most recently, she produced Dark Money, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and she directed one of the storylines in Kartemquin Films’ documentary series Hard Earned, winner of a 2016 Alfred I. DuPont Award, which explores the lives of five American Show more families struggling to get by in today's economy. She co-directed (with Ross Kauffman) the EmmyⓇ-nominated documentary E-TEAM, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Chevigny has produced and/or directed 12 critically acclaimed feature-length documentary films through Big Mouth, including Deadline, Election Day and also 1971 with Marilyn Ness. Her work has won multiple awards, been broadcast on networks including PBS, NBC, HBO, Netflix, Arte/ZDF and has played at festivals around the world. Show less

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The Film

Outside Looking In brings personal insight and a critical lens to transracial adoption, looking at three families facing the challenges of adopting children across racial lines. The film supplies a voice to those directly affected by adoption policies and explores larger topics facing our society: race, family, and identity.