Self-made banker Boriss Osipovs achieved quick success immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but he fled Latvia to avoid arrest for illegal operations.
Fifteen years later, his family receives a photograph from Interpol of an elderly gentleman with the same name who resides in a Malaysian psychiatric hospital. Could it be him?
Despite the reservations of her family, his daughter, filmmaker Ieva Ozolina embarks on a journey to find out the truth about the man in the photograph.
My Father the Banker is an emotional story about a man who loses himself in times of change and a daughter who hopes to find him.
Al Jazeera: More than a decade after your father left, life had begun to settle for you and your family. Were you worried that your investigation would disturb the peace of your lives?
Ieva Ozolina: Of course, I expected that my attempt to investigate the events relating to disappearance of my father might lead to the disturbance of the conditional peace of our family.
The peace was still deceptive though, since the inactivity made me feel like a villain caring only for my own welfare. I think that the rest of the family experienced similar feelings. I felt an obligation to become the mouthpiece of my father and to tell his actual story, step by step. In a way, the film was my father's confession through me.
What challenges did you face in convincing your family to participate in such a revealing and personal film?
I think it was hard for my family to remain uninvolved after they saw my passion for this project, although they still resisted up until the very last moment. My mom was not present in the sequence physically, but she was very present in her thoughts and arguments during production.
Did you have any mixed feelings about making a film on your father who was suffering from a mental illness? Did you ever worry about his ability to comprehend the public nature of such a project?
The period of mental change, which influenced all of us, was strongly pronounced in my father's life story. For a long time, I did not believe that he was really mentally ill. It seemed that we were the ones who were not managing to retain our sanity, that he was special.
I definitely knew that my father would engage in the project, if only his health condition allowed it. He was no longer this nit-picking, philistine, cowardly, unmanly man. Those had been the traits of his character already in the past. Was he aware of what he was revealing to me? I believe he was.
He told me: "It will be interesting for people to learn about how the banks are operating, how it is possible to hide from Interpol, what life is like in a mental hospital. Besides, that was in the past; I am not doing anything wrong right now, that's why I can talk."
What were your main concerns about bringing your father back home?
When I first went to Malaysia to see him, I really wanted him to come home with me, even though I understood that it would be hard for him to live without his activities. I doubted that it would be easy for him to be a businessman living here in Latvia again.
Later on, when I actually comprehended the reality, the main concerns were about finding a place in Latvia, where he could continue conducting his businesses in his head without harming himself and others.
Did you ever regret finding him?
Although the month after his return to Latvia was very hard for me and my sister, that time together made us closer and made us think also about our lives and choices. I have never regretted the decision to make the film. It is right that my father is here and not somewhere in a distant land, with a biography that had ended, in our minds, in 1995.
Source: Al Jazeera