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Meet Thousands of Twins in Twinsburg

Aug 28, 2018 | 831 videos
Video by Alex Markman

“We’re not exactly the same person,” says a teenage boy, glancing at his brother—who, dressed identically, and exhibiting the same physical features, appears to be the boy’s mirror image—“even though we’re going to the same college, majoring in the same thing, and taking all the same classes.”

Welcome to Twins Days, the largest annual festival for biological twins in the world. Every summer since 1976, thousands of pairs of twins have convened in Twinsburg, Ohio, to celebrate the uniqueness of twinship.

“Once twins start going to the festival, they never really stop,” Alex Markman told The Atlantic. Markman was inspired to shoot his short documentary, Twins Days, after he discovered the world-renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s portraits of twins from the festival. The photographs’ uncanny nature recall the images of Diane Arbus.

“It was an amazingly visual experience, and at the same time, very strange and frustrating,” Mark wrote after her first trip to the festival. “It was like I was seeing double and I felt somewhat isolated not being a twin. At the airpoirt on my way back to New York, I remember thinking how bizarre it was to be surrounded by non-twins.”

In his film, Markman interviews pairs of twins who share their experiences moving through life with what many describe as their other half. “We can feel each other’s pain if it’s very severe,” says one young twin girl. “When [my twin] fell and hit her head, I felt pressure in the back of my head, even though I wasn’t there.”

Reflecting upon his time at the festival, Markman said he was surprised by the intense intimacy he witnessed between pairs of twins across all ages. (“Although,” he added, “I'm sure being at a festival where twins celebrate being twins had something to do with it.”)

When Markman began showing his film to others, he found that it made some viewers uncomfortable. “I think they might have just seen The Shining at too young an age,” he said.

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.