Ostrochovsky, Pekarcik, Kerekes: Velvet Terrorists

Yesterday a new Slovak documentary had its world premiere in Karlovy Vary. It will have a long life on festivals around the world. If you say to someone that they are going to watch a film about people, who fought against the Communist regime in Czekoslovakia, their first thought would probably be that here comes another black & white film, probably with a lot of interviews and a commentary, and for sure with Havel as one of the heroes.

What you get with “Velvet Terrorists” is completely different. It is a hybrid documentary, hilarious in tone, full of playful surprises in storytelling, and Historytelling, you sense immediately that Peter Kerekes is one of the three directors and the main producer, who continues his “retro” work from “Cooking History” and “66 Seasons”

Stano, Fero and Vladimír are the three characters – very different and with very different, more or less quirky stories of resistance against the Communist regime. Stano wanted to blow a first-of-May-parade-platform into pieces, Fero had bigger ambitions as he wished to kill the country’s leader, Husak, and Vladimir performed, among other things, explosions of propaganda billboards. They all served prison sentences.

The film has definitely a touch of comedy, also in its staged scenes. Stano is single and his story – the three characters come one after the other – goes mainly from him dating several girls to him with his MCP (male chauvinist pig) pals in a car discussing women’s look, to him on his bed checking his blood

pressure. He is the least sympathethic encounter in the film but the filmmakers do what they can to make also him “a romantic hero”, when they place him and the girl friend at a lake at sunset…

Fero is married with two kids, and the story about him must have been easy to shoot as he creates a fine atmosphere around him and has a talent for acting. As when he teaches one of the sons how to escape safely in a car in a James Bond-like scene. He planned the big coup with a girl friend, who he tries to get in contact with, without success, and the assassination attempt on Husak failed as Fero did not get in contact with a foreign secret service!

The third, and in the film also the last, terrorist in the story is Vladimir, and he is serious business! With no wife, tired of him getting in and out of prison, he keeps himself in very fit shape, which is used by the filmmakers to make him do a casting – among young girls – to find a girl, who can continue his resistance against the ones in power. He finds one and he trains her to be as fit as him, and in shooting and in how to make explosions that work, and how to “cheat” a lie detector.

This is a great twist to our times where there is so much to protest against. Good to know that Vladimir’s student is ready for resistance at the end of an original, intelligent and humurous documentary that is a pleasure to watch.

Slovakia, 2013, 87 mins.


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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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