The Catholic Church is having a hard time in Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s. The communist regime threatens to crush it unless it submits to strict control and accepts restrictions on freedom of belief and expression. The clergy is divided into the regime-critical “catacomb church”, which maintains contact with the Vatican and Western media, and the “ecclesiastical hierarchy” which cooperates with those in power and is represented by the state-sponsored priests’ association Pacem in Terris that existed in the ČSSR from 1971 to 1989. This is the context in which young seminarians Michal and Juraj have to decide whether to remain faithful to their vocation and idealism or to bow to pressure from the secret police.
- Samuel Polakovic
- Samuel Skyva
- Vlad Ivanov
- Rebecca Lenkiewicz
- Marek Leščák
- Ivan Ostrochovský
- Juraj Chlpík
- Jan Daňhel
- Martin Malo
- Maroš Šlapeta
- Miroslav Tóth
- Cristian Lolea
- LOCO FILMS
- PUNKCHART FILMS
Ivan Ostrochovsky’s insidiously flinty, supremely assured and chillingly stylish second feature spins a story which is of utmost relevance today.
Cold wars of the spirit, fashionably austere and terse. Ostrochovsky delivers a series of striking visual images, often from unusual overhead angles. Starting with the very first shot — which follows a car driving a forlorn road at night — his bold, confident strokes accumulate into a sharp portrait of restrained, stylish and brooding power.
The Noirish atmosphere prevails, underlined by the protagonists’ long shadows, the night scenes artfully shot with one single light source. Servants is true to the spirit of Bresson
The Noirish atmosphere prevails, underlined by the protagonists’ long shadows, the night scenes artfully shot with one single light source. Servants is true to the spirit of Bresson.
Working with the secret police seems to be merely the other side of a double-edged sword.Servants is perhaps most chilling thanks to a certain inescapable timeless quality, despite being set specifically in 1980. Facades and faces comingle in extravagantly shot frames from Juraj Chlpik which demonstrates the powerful remnants of symbols vs. the reality of the flesh’s mortality.
The most impressive thing about Servants is how Ostrochovský has managed to sustain the unrelenting tension and uncertainty throughout the 80-minute running time.
Servants offers both a fascinating insight into the conflicts of the era while managing to bring out the universal struggle between doing what’s right and what’s comfortable.
What I’m trying to achieve in my films is that their interpretive layer is not thinner than the ego of myself as an author.
Born in 1972 in Žilina, Slovakia. After several documentary shorts and series, Ivan directed his feature documentary debut VELVET TERRORISTS (2013), which premiered at Berlinale 2014, where it won the Tagesspiegel Readers’ Award. Ivan’s feature debut, KOZA (2015), celebrated its world premiere at Berlinale 2015. It was also shortlisted for the 2015 European Film Awards and was the Slovak Oscar Entry for 2016. His latest film SERVANTS (2020) had its world premiere at Berlinale Encounters 2020. He is also a co-owner and producer at sentimentalfilm and Punkchart films.