Film Reviews

REVIEW: Velvet Terrorists

Hot Docs 2014

Velvet Terrorists (Zamatoví teroristi)
Slovakia/Czech Republic/Croatia, 87 min.
Directed by Péter Kerekes, Ivan Ostrochovsky, and Pavol Pekarcik
Programme: World Showcase (North American Premiere)

In Velvet Terrorists, directors Péter Kerekes, Ivan Ostrochovsky, and Pavol Pekarcik prepare their audience to expect the unexpected with a single chime. As a crystal clear skyline scampers across the top of the screen, the extraordinarily high-definition camera track to the right until a tower occupies the frame. White and scabbed from years of exposure to the elements, the structure is unremarkable. With a single chime and a burst of orange flame, however, the tower is leveled in a spectacular explosion. There is no detonation audible on the soundtrack; instead, a single note rings out.

This stylish film blurs the line between fact and fiction, the mundane and the extraordinary. The filmmakers manipulate editing and lighting techniques to illustrate a cast of characters rather than social subjects, and what we lack in information about Czechoslovakia’s communist period is completely made up for with these very interesting people. The camera accompanies Stano as he carpools with his coworkers, cuts to an extreme long shot of Fero’s car as he blows it up in the desert, and zooms in on a bust of Communist Prime Minister Lubomír Strougal as Vladimir shows a young girl how to use a sniper rifle.

Velvet Terrorists offers fascinating character studies three rebels, who fought the old Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and lived to tell their tales. The film of shows the quirkiness of modern life when one is fighting to gain freedom.

Hart House Theatre
Sat, May 3, 9:30 PM

Visit POV’s Hot Docs Hub for more reviews and features on the 2014 festival.

Nicholas Gergesha is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute. In addition to writing for magazines like POV, he also performs visual research and works with the City of Toronto.

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