Director Jihan Kikhia was only 6 years old when her father was abducted. Widely considered one of Muammar Qaddafi’s biggest threats, Mansur Rashid Kikhia was a peaceful opposition leader to the Qaddafi regime and unofficially crowned the next leader of Libya. As former Libyan Foreign Minister and human rights lawyer, Kikhia’s obsessive loyalty to Libya and determination to reason with his “brother” Qaddafi led to his disappearance.
For 19 years, Jihan witnessed her mother, Baha Omary Kikhia, search for her father, as they moved between France and the United States. While providing Jihan and her siblings with a joyful childhood, Baha, a Syrian-American artist, was navigating conflicting, complex, and often suspicious political agendas of five countries (the United States, Syria, Libya, France, and Egypt). Using a combination of creative instinct and quick wit, she became an unexpected player in a dangerous political game with some of the most powerful people in the world. Baha’s perilous search eventually led her to a face-to-face encounter with Qaddafi in the middle of the Libyan Desert at midnight, negotiating her husband’s release.
This documentary is a collection of anecdotes by Jihan’s mother, family members, friends, and key figures involved in the case, who provide candid, yet often contradictory, truths. Using archival footage, family video, investigative research and her visual art as animation, Jihan invites the audience on her raw, dreamlike odyssey, as she pieces together the father she never knew and her mother's quest to find him. Giving full access to her and her family’s vulnerabilities, intimacies, and existential journeys, she exposes politics not as an external or distant subject, but as a lived experience that penetrates deeply into every human relationship.
As Jihan tells her father’s untold story, she also tells an untold story of Libya. Haunted by a silent void all her life, Jihan intentionally uses the process of this documentary film to break into herself, wake up from her dream, and reconcile her trauma. She asks questions such as: What does it mean to disappear? What do justice and honor look like? How is a hero created? What does it mean to be a man’s daughter? Perhaps Jihan's desire to unravel these complex experiences in a documentary is to unearth what is beneath her family’s scars, and humanity’s scars; but most important is her attempt to affirm, and communicate to audiences, her conviction that human suffering births genuine contentment, tenderness, and gratitude.