I am appalled by the fact that, after such a long time, we still did not sort out our past in any of the former communist countries.
Almost four decades ago, in the former Czechoslovakia, a female medical student was murdered in mysterious circumstances. A frenetic investigation began at the end of the 1970s, involving the state police, the secret services, the media and Czechoslovakia's president Gustáv Husák personally. Unsolved to this day, the case has been hanging over the Slovak judiciary system: the group of men who were convicted at the time are still trying to prove their innocence. Robert Kirchhoff’s gripping debut in feature-length documentary – which invites parallels with Romanian cases examined by documentaries such as Babu (Cornel Mihalache, 1998) or The Great Communist Bank Robbery (Alexandru Solomon, 2004) - investigates a complex mechanism meant to produce convenient confessions under pressure, and to lead to a ‘clean’ sentence able to close swiftly a politically sensitive case.
“We only have the legal system that we deserve”, says one of the film’s subjects. How many times have you discovered yourself saying something similar – perhaps with small variations – over the past 25 years?