"PHNOM PENH LULLABY" BY PAWEŁ KLOC
"I look at the sky, high above the horizon. It smiles at me with its beauty. I’m close to you. You ask if we are meant for each other" – with this fragment of the lullaby the story of Israeli Ilan, who lives in Cambodia with his Khmer woman and her daughters begins. At the same time, those poetic lyrics introduce us to the world that is both immersed in dreams and burdened with an oppressive secret.
Ilan, the protagonist of „Phnom Penh Lullaby” directed by Paweł Kloc, left Israel many years ago. As he admitted, there were many reasons for that. For a long time he was unemployed in his homeland, and found himself in constant struggle to live a normal life without fear of war and a strain that political situation put on people’s life. If you cannot succeed in one place, you can always change it – he says. And it seems that this is the main reason that influenced Ilan’s decission – the search of a better place to live. Has he found it in fact? Does he feel „at home” in new, Cambodian reality?
Paweł Kloc’s film shows that Cambodia is not heaven on earth, nor even its nook. Here life goes on at a dirty, littered street – where people live on the pavements, sleep on the ground and struggle to make ends meet. In this forgotten land everything happenes at night – isn’t it easier to hide something that goes beyond morality and ethics once the night falls? Drugs, alcohol and prostitution dominate on each of the narrow, dark streets of Phnom Penh. Beautiful, nearly naked young women, often still adolescent girls, are strolling up the streets attracting new clients. Thanks to material recorded at the hidden camera we are whitnessing a shocking proposistion – 100 dollars for a very young one, do you fancy a 13 year old of 10 year old?.
This is the setting where we come to meet Ilan. He works as a street fortune teller predicting future that he reads through tarot. Everthing he knows, he learned from the old woman he met in Thailand, who noticed he was gifted to fortell the future. Ilan earns a living by reading old, shabby cards, that no one exept himself can sense. He can see the future of his clients but can he reach his future as well and reveal the secret of his destiny?
We found Ilan as a man who not only stands in front of the mistery of the future but also reveals misteries kept in secret by the past. We do not know what happened in protagonist’s life, why did he come to Cambodia and what made him start his complicated relationship with the Khmer woman. And even though we are closely whitnessing their intimate talks, still we are left with more questions than answers. Ilan gradualy but very fragmentarily unveils facts from his partner’s Saran life – how many children does she have and what where the reasons why some of were left behind or died…
Paweł Kloc’s documentary is dominated by the atmosphere of mistery, as each protagonist – Ilan, Saran, their children, girl met on the street, tourist from London asking for a fortune-telling – hides a secret and at any price they try to keep it for themselves. The director did not confine himself to emphasizing only this peculiar inclination, typical of every human being. Equally important attention is payed to the energy coming from dreams. Each protagonist is driven by unsatisfied desire of happiness, love and acceptance – considered values that everyone, with no exeptions is entitled to, but as Ilan says – pain and suffering – this is our life.
In one of the last scenes closing the film, Ilan and Saran, due to financial reasons, give away one of the daughters to the subtitute family. A litte girl starts her life with new parents while our protagonists stay on the street and watch their child being taken from them. All of the sudden we notice that in one of the buildings behind them the lights turn on. Is this a sign that also their life might be changed…