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

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

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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March 04, 2013

from current issue:

ThemeHaptic/Visual Identities – A project between art and researchAgata Mergler and Cristian Villavicencio about their haptic camerasAgata Mergler, Cristian VillavicencioSportCzech Documentary AlchemyAmerican freelance critic Daniel Walber examines alchemy within contemporary czech experimental movies which were screened at the 20th Jihlava IDFF in the Fascinations: section.Daniel WalberInterviewIt Was the Difficulty of Being ThereAn interview with two co-authors of the Best World Documentary Film award winner at the 20th Jihlava IDFF called Spectres Are Haunting Europe.Jitka LanšperkováInterviewI Just Wanted to Record the Workplace I Am Part ofAn interview with Aitziber Olaskoaga, whose mid-length documentary Smiling on the Phone received the Special Mention from the sole juror of the Opus Bonum section,Claire Atherton at the 20th edition of Jihlava IDFF.Jitka LanšperkováInterviewIt’s Not Easy to Get Rid of Ideas Once They Are Written DownInterview with Salomé Jashi, the director of the Best Documentary Debut and the Best Central and Eastern European Documentary Film at the 20th Jihlava IDFF called The Dazzling Light of Sunset.Jitka Lanšperkovávideo dok.revueThe response 'For no reason' is a genuine answerMasterclass: Flatformvideo dok.revueMundane situations with subtle transcendental poetic visualMasterclass: Viktor Kossakovskyvideo dok.revueSyrian football coach as a refugeeOpen class: Osama Abdul Mohsenvideo dok.revueCombining artistic reflections on the documentary genre with contemporary political dilemmasMasterclass: Thomas A. Østbyevideo dok.revuePussy Riot as an opposition to the current political system in RussiaOpen Class: Marija Aljochina