One common phrase amongst short films is “Based on a true story.” The jaded part of me is starting to get a little skeptical about the truthfulness of that phrase in every story. But not so jaded that I won’t give the benefit of the doubt to the film.
Emily Mortimer is Hanka, a Czechoslovakian refugee, living in North Dakota with her family in the short film, One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure. As a refugee, Hanka fled religious persecution under the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. Upon arrival in America, Hanka was placed in the care of a community of Lutherans in Fargo, North Dakota.
Her newfound freedom opened her heart to the point where she petitions the Lutheran Church to show the same kindness to her for a Cambodian Family fleeing genocide by the Khmer Rouge government. Writer/director A.M. Lukas’ story is told through the letter that Hanka wrote to the Lutheran Church imploring them to give a Cambodian family the same freedom she received…in Fargo North Dakota.
“The charm of the short is Mortimer’s beautiful portrayal of Hanka’s naivete and earnestness…”
The charm of the short is Mortimer’s beautiful portrayal of Hanka’s naivete and earnestness. On the one hand, Hanka goes through great lengths describing all the best qualities of life in North Dakota from its flat view thanks to a lack of mountains and tolerable cold winters. She also describes her experience with the citizens of Fargo as a foreign stranger and thinks this is the perfect time to bring another family deserving of a North Dakota welcome.
The film is essentially Hanka’s recitation of her letter to the Lutheran church accompanied with scenes of her life in Fargo with her husband and children. What comes across most is Hanka’s big heart for the less fortunate and also the clear fact that she’s never been to California. C’mon, North Dakota, am I right? Why live there.
The short ends with real photos of Hanka and the Cambodian family she took responsibility for once they arrived. Based on a true story.
One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure (2018). Written and directed by A.M. Lukas. Starring Emily Mortimer, Rachel Waters Brandt. One Cambodian Family Please for My Pleasure screened during the Prime Time block at the 2018 HollyShorts Film Festival.
8 out of 10 stars