Really Terrorists, Even Though Velvet?

The three stories of the full-length documentary Velvet Terrorists are connected only by the thin thread of conviction pursuant to the same section 93 on terrorism but, otherwise, these three men (youngsters at the time of their conviction) and their fates could not differ more. Hence, in effect, these are three independent films linked by the topic of hatred against Bolsheviks, communists, commies, etc., as well as by the fact that these films are not about their deeds from the past but rather about the way the protagonists live today.

This oscillation between the time layers is different in every case – the first story focuses on the present day, in the second one both lines overlap and in the third they blend, as stress is laid on the protagonist’s obsession with the fight which developed from the fight against the communist establishment into a fight against today’s establishment which has grown on the imaginary ruins of the communist one. Thus, we need to take a look at each of the films individually, as they differ as much as their protagonists.

The prologue consists of shots from manifestations of the immense power of communist structures, seen innumerable times before, presented as the embodiment of the permanence of the system against which an individual can do nothing. The authors introduce those individuals, who have found the strength to make a stand against this predominance after all, against a backdrop of explosions taking place only in minds, so that materialised visions, such as trees exploding at the roots when the protagonist is passing by, give the image a touch of imaginative surrealism – the idea materialises. This is a unique technique in documentary filmmaking.

Stano presents a tragicomic story of a typical Slovak, albeit a likeable loser in human terms. He made a botch of his active step, hence an ideologically motivated deed, in a manner about as Slovak as one can imagine – with a bottle in hand, which transforms his act of revolt into a farce. Now he is living his monotonous life of a frustrated loner who perks up only during hunting trips by car when, in addition to shooting animals (reference to the penchant for weapons and violence, even though accepted by society), Slovak sexism develops fully in the drunken atmosphere of male conviviality as a mirror image of complexes smothering the real relationship potential. The staged condensed embarrassment of the stereotype of love-matching attempts through newspapers and magazines, placed repeatedly into the same framework in terms of space and colour, refers to the farcicality of similar scenes in the early works of Miloš Forman, and at the same time presents a tribute to UlrichSeidl’s method which draws a deeper human truth from the situations involved in such procedures. Even here the authors mine the psychological truth by showing a lonely soul yearning for a partner as medication against loneliness. However, by repeated shots from the interior of the moving car, they tell us in cinema direct manner why these clumsy attempts, shorn of any empathy on the one hand and equipped with the awareness of human dignity on the other, cannot end other than as a lost cause. The protagonist accepts the comic interludes aimed at him with good humour and that makes him likeable – only a few have the courage to allow themselves to be ridiculed.

The occasional peeking at attractively-formed girls meant “for eyes only” connects him with the entire male world which pursues this sport (no honour to any exceptions) with the same enthusiasm as he does. Stano is no Oblomov and he tries to get from life as much as possible, but we also see him as a leaf drifting on the river where he floats with another candidate, not without comic ingredients. He tried to do something once, and even this deed turned against him grotesquely. He is not built for deeds at all, let alone historical ones.

The profile of the main hero could be characterised in this way if he were fictitious. However, Stano is a real person driven by the stream of life, quite a passive and all-in-all likeable man placed in the creative process by the authors into metaphorised situations transcending real human fate. That is also the reason why what the film allows to be extrapolated from the character does not have to pertain in real life, which is less predictable than the laws of dramaturgy. This applies to the other two stories of the triptych too.

Fero is a tougher guy and his penchant for weapons and fighting accompanies him in various forms throughout the film. He teaches his son how to escape his pursuers at a natural motorracing circuit, even though his son will obviously never need these techniques; he teaches his wife to shoot at a private shooting range – she accepts his penchant good-heartedly, but she is by far not as enthusiastic about it as he is. In the reconstruction scenes, we see him preparing for the assassination of the President, how he imagined evading arrest or how he listened to Radio Free Europe in the boiler room of the Communist Party Committee… In short, Fero still lives his past and its goals, but at the same time he is a settled Slovak father of a family and it is no coincidence that we see him repeatedly in the feather bed. For his sons the revolt is something akin to old stories from the battle of the Piave River or, at most, a chance to play an unusual game… When their father tells them in a coastal restaurant about his vain attempt to get into contact with a foreign secret service, they look almost like two dummies in their car, which they attempt, in a different situation, to push uphill. Unlike their mother, they don’t give a damn about any anticommunist (and obviously any other) revolt. We do not learn from the film what actually occupies their lives – well, it is not about them, but about their father. However, the generation gap is striking, even though the film does not emphasise it. And so the protagonist is shown as a man who remains proud of his revolutionary past for which he has paid, but less as living in the present day, even though he is still full of strength and he surely doesn’t spend his days only in the featherbed. What a pity that the film ignored this layer. On the other hand, the fact that the protagonist stands alone with his past in today’s consumer society clearly testifies to the era we are living in. If the portrait included contemporary social contexts too, it would certainly add to its depth.

The third story, Vladimír, is, in filmmaking terms, the most refined. It presents two fascinating personalities who are able to forget the camera and as non-actors let the filmmakers have a glimpse into their intimate sphere during the reconstruction of the joint phase of their lives with unbeatable authenticity. Viewed as a whole, the film appears like a handbook, a terrorist training manual – Vladimír introduces his potential adept and adherent to his rich know-how in a thoroughly detailed and methodological manner, he drives her to the limit of her strength in his physical demands. The film demonstrates this process equally precisely and with a sense for detail through the lens of the watchfully observing camera. It is dramatised by inventive editing of the image and orchestration of the sound.

As for the facts, the film raises a lot of questions. We do not learn why a convinced anti-communist, repeatedly imprisoned during the totalitarian regime, ultimately causing his marriage to fail, remained a potential terrorist even after the fall of the regime. The final attack at the Huxleyesque billboard Your Happiness Is Our Dream promising two birds in the bush as joyfully as erstwhile Orwell-esque Communist Party notice boards promised communist paradises on Earth, could be the key, but is this motif sufficient for him to stay so obstinately in the old ruts, even under the new conditions? We do not learn why Vladimír carried out his casting only among girls. The story does come close to the thin red line of erotic sparkling in moments of intimacy but never crosses it – the two of them become close rather on father and daughter terms. We do not learn why the teenage exotic beauty undergoes terrorist training which cannot help her in the stressing conflicts evoked by her imaginated queerness – she needed rather a karate course. Hence, a lot is lacking in this film.

Despite so many legitimate questions, the story mesmerises by what is not lacking. Vladimír and Iva emanate the charisma of authentic personalities in their spontaneity and their relation-ship, growing in the course of a demanding joint training, develops in psychological terms so credibly and suggestively as if this was not a reconstruction of something already experienced in some variation, but as if we were watching a feature film with such empathic protagonists that they merge with their characters, including Vladimír’s occasional slip into bitter humour, but at the same time, we are watching an observational documentary. However, since we know that the two of them are not performers but the originals, this makes the experience of this cinema verite all the more stronger. The end makes a very precise point. We have never before seen Iva without Vladimír, but now she is doing her long-distance run at night alone – the training is over, the new adept of velvet terrorism has achieved full qualification. Of course, the question arises right away, what does she need her new qualification for, but this issue was already broached.

The triptych concludes with short returns to all three stories, underlining what these different life-trails have in common: a tragicomic but touching impulsiveness and amateurism of their approach, rather as if they were looking for a way to vent their dissatisfaction with the situation. One of them even trained a successor for this complex, which was inadequate then and even more inadequate today, so he evidently continues his quixotism. It is this quixotic element, which could be called a reversal of the well-known saying to “to crack a nut using a sledgehammer”, as the protagonists attacked the symbols of the system, not the system itself, and that is the real thread connecting the three different attempts to change the course of history and the profile of their carriers today. At a time when transpersonal objectives often invoke a sceptical grin, the comic-romantic overlapping of their fates and also the two everyday and one obsessive ending should strike a drowned down-chord in our souls. How many quixotisms ultimately changed the course of history? Only further development will show which did and which did not. It is no quixotism to devote such a challenging, manifold and riveting film to this topic.

Pavel Branko

Velvet Terrorists (Zamatoví teroristi, Slovakia/Czech Republic/Croatia, 2013) _SCRIPT AND DIRECTED BY: Pavol Pekarčík, Ivan Ostrochovský, Peter Kerekes _DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Martin Kollár _EDITED BY: Marek Šulík, Zuzana Cseplő _MUSIC: Marián Čurko _PARTICIPANTS: Stanislav Kratochvíl, František Bednár, Vladimír Hučín, Amanda Nagyová, Marcela Bednárová, Iva Škrbelová

Pavol Pekarčík
(1972, Spišská Sobota)
Graduate of the Department of Documentary Direction at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava. He made several films with Ivan Ostrochovský who made Velvet Terrorists (Zamatoví teroristi) in collaboration with him. These were Lesser Evil (Menšie zlo, 2004), Wind (Vietor, 2004), Karakorum (2005), Uli Biaho (2008); Pekarčík also worked on Ostrochovský’s film Ilja (2010) as director of photography and editor. He collaborated in various positions in the making of Gypsy (Cigán, dir. Martin Šulík, 2011) or Made in Ash (Až do mesta Aš, dir. Iveta Grófová, 2012).

Ivan Ostrochovský
(1972, Žilina)
He studied film science and documentary film at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava. He made films such as Pietro Pascalo (2000), Script for a Documentary (Scenár k dokumentárnemu filmu, 2001) and he collaborated with Pavol Pekarčík on Lesser Evil (2004), Wind (2004), Karakorum (2005), Uli Biaho (2008). He was awarded the Igric Award for the 30-minute documentary Ilja (2010) dedicated to music composer, Ilja Zeljenka. He also collaborated in the making of several TV series and he (co)produced films of his colleagues.

Peter Kerekes
(1973, Košice)
He studied film direction at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava. 66 Seasons (66 sezón, 2003) was his full-length debut. It was screened in cinemas and it won several awards, including one at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. However, Kerekes’s films reaped awards at festivals prior to him making 66 Seasons – this holds true in particular for Morytats and Legends of Ladomírová (Ladomírske morytáty a legendy, 1998). Five years ago, his full-length documentary Cooking History (Ako sa varia dejiny, 2008) was screened in cinemas. For instance, it won the Special Jury Prize at HotDocs in Toronto or the Golden Hugo at the Chicago IFF. Kerekes also collaborated in the making of several Slovak and foreign TV series.


Orphans and Their Parents

After Fine, Thanks by Mátyás Prikler and My Dog Killer by Mira Fornay, Miracle by Juraj Lehotský has become the third film with a social theme to be quite successful at festivals in 2013. We cannot speak of social films as mainstream in cinematography; they resemble rather an unpredictably winding stream and, for audiences, sometimes even an underground stream rather than a huge river. Nevertheless, they are on the increase and that should not be overlooked.

As is often the case for films with a social theme, all three of the above films are about families experiencing a crisis, or even about dysfunctional families. While in Fine, Thanks (Ďakujem, dobre) we see how family ties are torn, ripped apart under tension or weakening under the pressure of circumstances, exhaustion or fatigue, so that communication languishes and falters, Mira Fornay and Juraj Lehotský show us the consequences of family ties which ceased functioning a long time ago. In My Dog Killer (Môj pes Killer) the dysfunctional family leads to the protagonist replacing it with a skinhead community and subsequently to a tragedy and, at the same time, to his inability to feel or reflect on this tragedy. The failing family in Miracle (Zázrak) is supplanted by a re-education centre from the institutional perspective and by a relationship with a beloved man from the emotional one. Both – quite logically and fatally – fail.

The protagonist of Miracle is fifteen-year-old Ela who is confined by her mother and her new partner in a “re-education centre”. Ela invests all her hopes in a relationship with an older, but emotionally blunt and socially inadequate boy, Roby, who works somewhere “out there” as a security guard in a supermarket and lives in a garage on the fringe of the city. He is the reason why Ela absconds from the re-education centre. But Roby is not capable of supporting her, he is indifferent to her, even capable of selling her for a few hundred euro or a few grammes of methamphetamine.

When Ela loses all hope of maintaining her relationship with Roby and the dream of them leaving together for England falls apart (the motif of England appears also in The House (Dom) by Zuzana Liová, even with the same rejoinder as a reaction to the protagonist’s intention: “They sure are just waiting for you.”), she returns to the centre without hesitation and of her own volition. She is deserted, without any background and perspective, albeit apparently not broken or desperate. She displays an unusually strange mixture of defiance and resignation. She doesn’t let anyonebadmouth her mother, but she has long since stopped counting on her mother’s ideas, orders and advice. It is so that she doesn’t communicate with anyone any more. The miracle that, thanks to her sensitivity, appears to emerge for a second at the end of the film will probably have to grow elsewhere. In another family, a foster one, maybe even functional and sustainable…

Juraj Lehotsky found the main outlines of the theme and even the protagonist herself in an actual re-education centre in Eastern Slovakia where for several years he, together with screenwriter Marek Leščák and director Mátyás Prikler, has already been organising film workshops for these unmanageable children or rather children unmanaged and deserted by their families. This positioning of the film in a “documentary” and personal experience is reminiscent of last year’s film by Iveta Grófová Made in Ash (Až do mesta Aš) which was co-written by screenwriter and dramaturge Marek Leščák who also co-wrote Miracle.

Just as in Miracle, in Grófová’s film we also find a hostile, even merciless world and a pure soul whose ideals and gullibility contrast sharply with the cold and cruel world. The “pure hearts” of the protagonists, however, appear differently in both films: while Dorotka’s sensitivity is revealed in particular in her desires, dreams and fears shown in animated sequences, Ela’s sensitivity and receptiveness percolate from her deeds when she, for instance, takes care of bedridden patients in a hospital where she undergoes practical training as an orderly. But Ela is also much more childish than Grófová’s Dorotka, and her joys and short temper are those of a teenager. Her testiness, expressed by shoving and shouting, which are signs of helplessness rather than aggressiveness, may recall another forlorn heroine – Betka from Fornay’s debut Foxes (Líštičky). But, unlike Dorotka who drifts on the waves of life, and unlike Betka who reacts aggressively to almost every unexpected disruption, and even unlike most of the faltering male protagonists in Fine, Thanks and My Dog Killer, Ela is actually able to make decisions. It even appears that she is able to take responsibility for her decisions – albeit these are not always fortunate or correct.

In this way Miracle represents a timely breach of the stereotype on offer – girls without a background who become victims of sexual violence or hostages of men without a way out, as we see in Made in Ash, Gypsy (Cigán) by Martin Šulík and in part in Foxes by Mira Fornay. Ela also experiences rape and humiliation, but she escapes this ambit.

However, despite the dissimilarities in the films mentioned – not solely with regard to the theme – it is the similarities that predominate. For instance, Juraj Lehotský chose a similar narrative to what we find in Made in Ash and My Dog Killer. He throws situations into the face of the audience without necessarily bringing them to an end, he does not play with the audience, he does not fawn over them with his script. Just as the previous two films, Miracle captures only fragments, does not clarify the motivation of the secondary characters; nevertheless, the film gets right to the gist. From the screenwriting and dramaturgic perspectives, it is probably the most accomplished of the three films mentioned above.

The music with its precisely applied minimalist chords, and equally the camera, which keeps close to the protagonist most of the time, contribute to the impression of precise construction and narrative purity. The camera does not allow the heroine to run away from the shot and, if it does, the audience feels that it is always near her. The camera deserts Ela only in one scene: this is when Roby takes drugs and leaves her alone. (But, on the other hand, it is the camera that brings unexpected elements into the film: it doesn’t show us Ela’s neglected teeth until almost the middle of the film, thereby admitting that it has mainly been covering her from flattering angles.) Conversely, in Made in Ash the camera sometimes turns away from the protagonists almost autistically and concentrates on the forlorn city interiors, or it even presents the image out of focus at sensitive moments. We also see this defocusing at the key moment

in My Dog Killer where, after the Roma boy dies, the camera literally “refuses” to focus on the main protagonist. By contrast, the camera in Miracle is almost nurturing – as if its supervision were acting as substitute for the missing mother figure. And so, even though Ela is an echo or a close relative of other characters from Slovak social films, even though she is the step-sister of Betka and Dorotka, even though all these characters are the forlorn orphans of living parents, Ela at least has the protective view of the camera above her, or next to or around her. Is that enough for the audience or not? Despite Miracle being a precisely constructed and strong film, it comes to cinemas only as an also-ran. For a cinematography where only a few full-length feature films are made every year, a multiple deja-vu can suddenly become a smaller miracle than Miracle would have been just a year ago.

Mária Ferenčuhová

Miracle (Zázrak, Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2013) _DIRECTED BY: Juraj Lehotský _SCRIPT: Marek Leščák, Juraj Lehotský _DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Noro Hudec _EDITED BY: Marek Šulík _MUSIC: Martin Burlas _CAST: Michaela Bendulová, Robert Roth, Venuša Kalejová, Lenka Habrunová, Kika Potočná, Žaneta Polhošová, Sandra Radičová and others.

Juraj Lehotský
(1975, Bratislava)
He studied photography at the Secondary Technical School of Art in Bratislava and then documentary filmmaking at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. He has directed several short films and has made contributions to large series. He made two full-length projects – the documentary Blind Loves (Slepé lásky, 2008) and the feature film Miracle (Zázrak, 2013). The former won many awards, inter alia the C.I.C.A.E. (International Confederation of Art Cinemas) Award in the Quinzaine des Realisateurs (Directors’ Fortnight) Section at the Cannes IFF; in Slovakia it won five national film awards – Sun in a Net – including the award for Best Documentary and Best Director. Lehotský’s latest film Miracle was awarded a Special Mention in the East of the West Section at the 48th Karlovy Vary IFF and the Best Actress Award for Michaela Bendulová at the 23rd Film Festival Cottbus.


The Thick Black Line

The release of the Slovak-Czech documentary Normalization (presented in Slovakia as The Cervanová CaseKauza Cervanová) in cinemas was accompanied by unprecedented interest from the mass media which accorded the film all the hallmarks of being a real event. Otherwise reserved opinion-makers among film reviewers were also mesmerised by the film and straight after its release they were talking of a “big” film of “world class”. It was the subject of discussion for years, so it was difficult to prevent the expectations.

The title Normalization indicates that the author’s ambition is to talk about the modern history of the country and about a specific crime case which is to serve as a synecdoche. However, the resulting form of the film may surprise.

When the lifeless body of a young woman was found in the summer of 1976 in a stream near Kráľová at Senec, an investigation was started. It was one of the most extensive in the history of Czechoslovak crime investigation. The victim was identified as a medical student, Ľudmila Cervanová. Witnesses last saw her alive on the campus in Mlynská dolina, Bratislava. So the police interrogated students who attended the disco at the Unic Club on the night of her murder. Cervanová allegedly left the disco late at night, she headed for the bus stop and got into a car with unknown men. Evidence, clues and experts’ opinions were added to the hundreds of testimonies recorded in the investigation dossier. The case gained huge media attention which culminated when, after years of unsuccessful investigation, the police finally accused a group of men from Nitra. The public was mobilised to such an extent that they demanded the death penalty. In the end, seven citizens of Nitra were awarded sentences of four to twenty-four years in prison on the basis of a few confessions and witness testimonies. After the Velvet Revolution, the Supreme Court quashed the verdict due to doubts inherent in the case. The convicts were released and they started to talk publicly about political conspiracy, forced confessions and the manipulation of evidence which put allegedly innocent people behind bars.

The basic features of the case are well-known to the Slovak public and they inevitably raise a lot of questions. If the audiences expect factual answers from Kirchhoff’s film, then they will be frustrated. Normalization is a courageously subjectivised narrative which emphasises the epistemological rather than the ontological level of the case. Hence it may happen that, at the end of the film, the audience has the impression that they know less about the whole matter than at the beginning. Or at least less than they thought they knew. Do not be misled by the catchy but somewhat misleading tagline issuing from the mouth of the polygraph examiner – the truth in this case is at least as complicated as lies. The fragments of the truth are concealed all the time somewhere behind the faces which we may observe and examine on the screen. Here the truth is something impenetrable, interiorised, dependent on mediated revelations which just have to be questioned. It is wholly typical that, after more than two-thirds of the film has been shown in this agnostic spirit of contradictory testimonies, improbable and even less probable explanations, a twist comes literally as the deus ex machina. The polygraph externalises everything internal – memories, fear, conviction – into a set of diagrams and data on a roll of paper. Kirchhoff recorded the course of the testing, but he didn’t show all those important lines and curves in the film and again he let people talk about them – they were experts but, again, essentially people interpreting the results. Thus, the answer to the cardinal question of guilt still remains a matter of more or less informed subjective conviction with many issues projected in it – the most significant perhaps being the a priori trust or distrust in the judicial system.

At the same time, it is needful to state that the author’s conviction of the innocence of the convicted men from Nitra is obvious in the film and that that is perfectly all right. Kirchhoff presents his conviction, but does not force it on others. If he does convince the audience of anything, then it is of the reasons for doubts about the legality of the investigation and trial. He put a lot of effort particularly in the part about the post-revolution development of the case and the retrial, which simply confirmed the 1980s verdict without taking into consideration the evidence newly discovered in the Levoča archive. Kirchhoff suggests that this was a consequence of the policy of thick lines, a content and personnel continuity in the judiciary prior to and post the revolution. The reform of the judiciary is a political agenda and in this sense his film is also political – just as, even though less explicitly, the Disease of the Third Power (Nemoc tretej moci) that director Zuzana Piussi made two years ago. However, sometimes the director shifts needlessly from arguments to attractions (for instance the sneaky confrontation of President Gašparovič with General Prosecutor Trnka).

Several features – beginning with the structure of the narrative and ending with the music dramaturgy – reveal the inspiration from The Thin Blue Line, so to say a canonical documentary about miscarriages of justice. Based on testimonies of participants and witnesses, American director Errol Morris compiled a picture of a strikingly similar case which, by coincidence, occurred in the same year as the murder of Ľudmila Cervanová. In this case also, the over-motivated investigators jumped on the first available solution to an unpleasant and sensitive crime, ignoring everything that did not fit in their puzzle. However, while Morris adheres to a strictly rigorous method, Kirchhoff’s approach is more intuitive. This difference is mainly displayed in the montage techniques. Morris actually utilises only five types of material: testimonies of the people involved shot as talking heads, staged reconstructions of the events corresponding accurately to the individual witness versions, documentation from the dossier and newspaper articles, several fragments from old Hollywood films and neutral archive images (the detail of a tape recorder playing the recording of a witness testimony or the nocturnal urban scenery). Thanks to these boundaries and disciplined editing, there is no place in the film for the author’s speculations.

In Normalization Kirchhoff worked with a more variegated palette of materials: initiated situations (the morgue scene, almost like from Roy Andersson), situations captured by “fly-on-thewall” techniques (the quarrel between the accused men) or even by candid camera, television and private archives, archive shots, documentation from the dossier, Danglár’s drawings, commentary, etc. The natural expansion of the collected material is related to the interest of mass media in the case and clearly also to the eight years spent working on the project. Director Kirchhoff consistently visits new witnesses in the film, driven not by the effort to better understand but rather by the compulsive need to see and touch everyone and everything related to the case, not to omit anything. He appears in front of the camera several times, he knocks on locked doors and tests the door knobs or asks questions from behind the camera. Hence, in a certain sense, the film is a story about his subjective experience of the case, about the obsessive search for answers which ultimately, maybe, are not transferable.

In Morris’s The Thin Blue Line the editing is subordinated to consistent control over meanings ensuing from the individual syntagmas. This effort to exclude everything that is random and inadvertent from the structure of the narrative is visible also in the reconstruction scenes which are mostly built from details making it possible to “put into brackets” that which cannot be proved. The montage procedures in Kirchhoff’s film are nowhere near so incontestable. It may happen several times that the audience will not know what they are watching at that particular moment: is it simply an illustrative shot or does it hold some significance for the Cervanová case? In particular, the montage of image and sound is quite problematic in some moments (for instance, the part of the film dedicated to the so-called Arab trail or the initial commentary with an unclear enunciator). All these reservations are actually reservations against the argumentation technique and are mainly obstructive if we expect Kirchhoff’s film to be something which it is not and probably doesn’t even seek to be. However, if we concede at the outset that we are watching an author’s documentary that does not strive to be strictly objective, Normalization may strike us with surprising intensity and in unexpected places.

Morris’s film had an interesting after-effect. On its basis, the trial in question was re-opened and the unjustly accused man was released from prison. This case revealed that the quality of democracy is not solely a matter of the infallibility of the system, but also of the functionality of check and balance mechanisms, within which mass media – including film – play a potentially significant and responsible role. Kirchhoff’s Normalization is a different type of film despite all the similarities, and we are not led to expect anything similar from it. The purpose of the film is mainly that it allows the audience to experience the extreme destiny of the victim – whether or not the victim is the convicted men, the persecuted witnesses or the young girl who figures symbolically in the first and last shots of the film.

Pavel Smejkal

Normalization (Kauza Cervanová, Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2013) _SCRIPT AND DIRECTED BY: Robert Kirchhoff _DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Jan Meliš _EDITED BY: Jana Vlčková, Adam Brothánek _MUSIC: Peter Zagar

Robert Kirchhoff
(1968, Nitra)
He studied documentary filmmaking and dramaturgy at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava. In 2002, he established the production company atelier.doc which, for instance, took part in several projects by documentary filmmaker Zuzana Piussi. Kirchhoff himself made films like Black Word/Calo Lav (Čierne slovo/Kálo lav, 1999), Hey You Slovaks (Hej Slováci, 2002), Flowers of Evil (Kvety zla, 2003), Glamour and Misery (Lesk a bieda SNP, 2005)… Normalization (Kauza Cervanová) won the Special Mention of the Jury at the 17th Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival and also the Honorary Mention and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at DOK Leipzig.