Today one in eight children grows up in a "Patchwork Family" - a cheerful term for what is often a sad reality. Fewer and fewer couples hold their relationships together. They get divorced earlier and seek and often find new partners. What is life like in a Patchwork Family? Couldn't the parents have stayed together, what do the children think about this, how does life change when the parents enter new relationships? For her documentary series SWR author Sigrid Faltin shadowed a young Patchwork Family for four years, one that faced the worst case scenario when their father Kai fell ill with lung cancer. Everything gets shaken up all over again.
Part 1: A New Family
When filming began, Marion (32) and her son Lars (5) had been living for six months with Kai (43) and his four children: Liv (11), Bela (10), Enid (8), and Amon (6). They met via the internet and it didn't take long before they decided to move together to make life easier for Kai as a single father and his children. Lars, Marion's son, sees his father Dietmar as often as he likes. For him his dad is the greatest and he gets along just fine with his new step-siblings. Things would be even better, if his dad were to live with them. Dietmar and Marion still get along well. Why did they have to separate - at the expense of their child?
In the midst of filming the bad news descends: Kai has advanced cancer. How will this affect the Patchwork Family? What will become of the hard-won new happiness? What will happen to the children, if Kai doesn't survive his illness? How can the family deal with this overwhelming crisis?
Part 2: A Time Between Hope and Dread
Marion (32) and her son Lars (5) have been living in Lörrach for one year with Kai (44) and his four children: Liv (12), Bela (10), Enid (8), and Amon (6). Their dream of raising a Patchwork Family together is endangered with one stroke when Kai is diagnosed with lung cancer. The doctors don't give him much hope. He may have six months to live, perhaps more. Kai is in deep despair and withdraws from the family. Left mostly on her own, Marion has to take care of the five children while also holding down a job as a music teacher. This burdens the relationship and the whole family. In their rented vacation house in the south of France, their different needs clash and Kai and Marion ask themselves whether there is any point to getting married as they had planned? And as if that is not worrysome enough, there are continuous problems with the mother of Kai's children, who, in violation of the court ruling, suddenly shows up on the youngest son's first day of school.
Part 3: A Long Struggle
For two and one half years Marion (34) and her son Lars (7) have been living in Lörrach with Kai (46) and his four children: Liv (14), Bela (12), Enid (10), and Amon (8). The two have married and are now hoping for a child of their own. But Kai is ill with lung cancer and has to undergo chemotherapy. Will he still be able to procreate? Why is he withdrawing so much from the family? Marion is practically left alone with the day-to-day care of the five children and her profession. And she has to prepare the children for the worst case scenario: Kai's death. How can she tell the children about Kai's real outlook without them sliding into deep depression? A surprise party for Kai, a totem pole for the whole family, a patchwork cover for Liv - with unending patience and much fantasy Marion holds the Patchwork Family together. But what's in it for her?
Part 4: A New Perspective
Marion (35) and her son Lars (8) have been living in Lörrach for three years with Kai (47) and his four children: Liv (14), Bela (13), Enid (11), and Amon (9). Two and a half years ago Kai fell ill with lung cancer. Now the tumors have spread to all his organs and he can hardly speak. He lies bed-ridden in hospital. Will he make it home again? Kai would like to die at home. But will the children and Marion be able to cope with this? The film shows how Kai's family deals with his dying and how their lives continue afterwards. The biological mother demands custody of the children, but they don't want to even see their mother. What does the court decide? How does Marion manage alone with five children? And then Marion falls in love anew. What do the children think about this? How do they react to Marion's new boyfriend?
Behringfilm im Auftrag des SWR
A film by
4 x 45 Min.
Kamera: Ingo Behring, Mark Klotz
Schnitt: Mark Klotz, Isabelle Allgeier
Ton: David Spajic, Lea Bartel, Felix Henning, Andreas Radzuweit
Musik: Nils Kacirek
Produktionsleitung: Roland Schäfer
Produzenten: Ingo Behring, Mark Klotz, Sigrid Faltin
Redaktion: Jürgen Flettner
Dietmar-Heeg-Medienpreis der Karl-Kübel-Stiftung 2017