'Donor Unknown': Documentary starring Mercyhurst senior to be screened at PAC

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, an award-winning documentary about one Mercyhurst student’s unique story will be shown at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC).

The film is “Donor Unknown,” and the student is senior intelligence studies/Middle Eastern studies major JoEllen Marsh.

Marsh was raised in a very unique family environment. She has two lesbian mothers, and she was conceived with a sperm donation from an anonymous donor. “Donor Unknown” follows Marsh as she connects with many of her half siblings and seeks out the anonymous donor that provided her with half of her genetics.

The film has been shown on PBS, and it has received positive reviews from major publications like the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.

“I think the weird part is that it’s been seen by so many different people,” Marsh said.

Mary-Louise Parker from the Showtime series “Weeds” provided an introduction to the film when it premiered on PBS. Even actor Zach Braff referred to the film as “an amazing documentary” in an interview with USA Today.

Being in a documentary has given Marsh an opportunity to travel.

“I was studying abroad in Jordan last year, and the documentary was playing at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City,” she said. “The film crew flew me back from Jordan to go to that, and then back to Jordan.”

It was at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival that “Donor Unknown” won the festival’s annual Online Audience Award.

“But the cooler part was that they flew me to London for two weeks when the film premiered in theaters there,” Marsh said.

While visiting London she also flew to Ireland for a premiere.

“It’s cool to get to talk to people and get to talk to audiences; I think that’s my favorite part,” she said.

Most of Marsh’s friends from Mercyhurst have yet to see the film.

“I’m really excited for them to come and get to watch it,” she said.

During her sophomore year, the documentary film crew came to the Mercyhurst campus to film portions of the film.

“I think there’s a really close relationship between Mercyhurst and the film,” said Marsh. “I’m really excited for people around here to see it.”

“Donor Unknown” premieres at the PAC on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. There will be a question-and-answer session after both screenings.