The Cervanova Case, or Truth is simple, lie is complex

A documentary tragedy about the right to justice directed by Robert Kirchhoff

Z filmu Kauza Cervanova

Eight years ago I decided to record the court process with the alleged murderers of a young medical student that took place in 1976. It is the longest court case in the history of the Czechoslovak justice referred to in court records as The Cervanová Case.

I discovered that the entire story was based on a sequence of events that had directly affected the lives of several dozen people. I was interested in questions that have directly or indirectly arisen from the doubts surrounding the case. I was interested in the truth. I did not attempt for a reconstruction of the criminal case. I wanted to provide a universal image of “crime and punishment” with political subtext. The film does not aim at searching for the murderers or proving anyone innocent. The message is not to identify the perpetrators. That is the responsibility of the courts of justice. However, it seems that this case was a complete failure of justice. In a certain respect, this endless and mysterious case represents the story of our country and its power structures, and it convincingly portrays the period of Czechoslovak normalization. Although this period is long gone, its “men of power” endure time and transformations in the society. A criminal act has thus become a means of representing the mechanism of fear, absurdity and the peculiar workings of fate allowing elites to abuse power and the right to career advancement to eventually come to believe in their own lies.


Robert Kirchhoff, February 2013





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starší články

1.13DOK.REVUE
04. 03. 2013


from current issue:

New releaseShooting About KunderaDocumentarian Miloslav Šmídmajer describes the process of making a documentary about Milan Kundera with the working title “Milan Kundera: From the Joke to Insignificance.” Miloslav ŠmídmajerThemeNest in the bedroomPeter Hames, well-known British film historian and author of the book The Czechoslovak New Wave sent his remembrance to Karel Vachek to our magazine.Peter HamesThemeNever stop laughingPaolo Benzi, the Italian film producer and founder of the independent film production company Okta Film, describes for dok.revue how he met famous Czech documentary filmmaker Karel Vachek, who passed away last year. Paolo Benzi is also the main tutor of the Emerging producers in Ji.hlava IDFF.Paolo BenziThemeBehold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightenedIn this English issue of dok.revue we have collected some remembrances to Karel Vachek, the respected Czech documentarist who died in December 2020 at the age of 80. One of the contributors is Olaf Möller, a well-known film theorist and critic collaborating with many renowned film magazines (Film Comment or Sight & Sound), film museums and festivals (e.g. Il Cinema Ritrovato or International Film Festival Rotterdam).Olaf MöllerThemeEvery human being should get to wear comfy shoesThe Czech documentarist Karel Vachek was a chairperson of the jury at Yamagata international documentary film festival (YIDFF) in 2009. The board member of YIDFF and the former director of this festival, Asako Fujioka, has a remembrance of him smoking his pipe and going to the mountains with Japanese poet and filmmaker Yoshimasu Gozo to recite poetry to the skies.Asako FujiokaThemeLike the dog on the beach...American film historian Alice Lovejoy writes her remembrance of Karel Vachek, the remarkable Czech documentarist to whom we dedicate this English issue of dok.revue.Alice LovejoySportPandemic as an opportunityJi.hlava's Emerging Producers discuss the opportunity that can emerge from crisisSteve RickinsonInterviewThe times of lifelong careers are overAn interview with documentarian Jindřich Andrš, whose film A New Shift won the Czech competition section Czech Joy at Ji.hlava IDFF2020.Vojtěch KočárníkInterviewGoing to the Polish Turf with Our Own TeamInterview with documentary filmmakers Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák about their latest joint film project Once Upon a Time in Poland that shows how religion and faith are misused in contemporary Poland for mass manipulation and political purposes. The film‘s Czech premiere was held as part of the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival 2020.Kamila BoháčkováIntroductionDok.revue 1.21This issue is dedicated to the doyen of Czech documentary filmmaking Karel VachekKamila Boháčková