"Marina Kem loved her father Ottara Kem. But she didn´t really know him because he had never talked much about himself. As a young man he came from Cambodia to the former GDR, studied and built a new life. He never talked much about his family and his homeland. When he dies of lung cancer, Marina Kem travels with her sisters to Cambodia to bury the ashes of her father. She decides to look for the past of a person that was so close and yet so unfamiliar.
Marina Kem has succeeded in making BONNE NUIT PAPA an incredible multi-layered and nuanced documentary. Not only does she portray a man, whose thoughts and considerations prove his fascinating and unique character. But also, the author takes the audience on a journey to a foreign country with its culture, its people and its harrowing history of decades of political unrest.
Many members of the Kem family were imprisoned, tortured, and killed during the Khmer Rouge rule. The encounters with the survivors are all the more astonishing and touching as they show that kindness and love, despite all horror, are stronger than hatred and violence. Additionally, you learn a lot about Ottara Kem‘s life in the GDR. Conversations with family members, friends and colleagues of Ottara create an intimate and social portrait, which proves the director‘s excellent skills of asking the right questions at the right time. She tells the whole story in a sensitive and cautious way, without ever pushing herself into the forefront. The film remains calm and brings its audience along on its journey, letting them share in futile attempts. The director thereby achieves, beyond the personal, a universally valid human dimension that gives the film its quality. In every minute we recognize love, respect and warmth. A strong woman‘s deeply moving and wonderfully told quest for the story of her father. And her own roots."
STERNTAUCHER Filmproduktion's first feature length documentary tells dauntlessly and delicately about a speechless father-daughter-relationship that leads to the discovery of a new culture.