AF French Film Festival Review: Kalinka (France, 2016) is a shocking and suspenseful true-crime thriller

Kalinka (Au nom de ma fille) is a French film that is based on the real-life events surrounding the Kalinka Bamberski case. It’s a dark and suspenseful thriller about one man’s dogged determination for justice. It’s a fight that spans multiple decades and traverses a couple of different country’s borders with the pure aim of seeing that justice will eventually prevail.

This film is by director, Vincent Garenq who is no stranger to making films in this genre. Garenq also doubles as a co-writer along with Julien Rappeneau. The film stars Daniel Auteuil as André Bamberski and really carries this film. He plays a family man who loses his only daughter.

Bamberski’s first wife Cecile (Christelle Cornil) would divorce him in the early seventies and take a new lover in the form of the suave and charismatic Dr Dieter Krombach (Sebastian Koch) but this had painful ramifications. In July 1982 Bamberski’s 14 year old daughter, Kalinka and young son Pierre travelled from France to Germany in order to holiday with their mother and new step-father. On July 10 Kalinka was found dead. There were disturbing circumstances surrounding her passing but in Bamberski’s eyes these were not addressed during the investigation that occurred in the aftermath of his daughter’s death.

Bamberski had Kalinka’s autopsy report translated and was horrified to learn that Dr Krombach had injected his daughter with various substances (the step-father claimed that this was in an attempt to revive the teenager). Krombach was also present at the autopsy. Bamberski found it strange that the coroner had failed to properly investigate whether a rape had taken place (later when Kalinka’s body was exhumed and re-examined it would be revealed that her genitals had actually been removed). Needless to say there were a lot of questions thrown up by the investigation or lack thereof.

Bamberski presumed that Krombach was responsible for Kalinka’s death. Bamberski embarked on a relentless fight against French and German officials and their respective legal systems in order to see Krombach brought accountable for this crime. Along the way other allegations against Krombach were brought forward by other young women. All of this evidence would help Bamberski in fighting the legal obstacles thrown in his way and to eventually break the conspiracy of silence that had enveloped Kalinka’s death.

Kalinka is ultimately a rather clinical and procedural look at the events that took place with respect to the Kalinka Bamberski case. Her father André never gave up and had to fight the denial of doctors, legal professionals and his family (including his ex-wife) in order to convince them of what he believed in his gut was the truth. The story itself is a rather hopeful one that has a few things in common with In The Name Of My Daughter as it again shows a parent fighting against incompetent practices in criminal investigations. Kalinka is ultimately a dramatic and tense look at the sacrifices a David-character must endure in order to fight against some bureaucratic Goliaths in order to pursue justice, truth and accountability.


Kalinka plays around Australia as part of the Alliance Française Film Festival, which kicks off this week. For more information and tickets please click HERE.