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. Ostrochovský has created an austere, overwhelming black-and-white work in which he artfully contrasts the pallor of marble, plaster and faces with the darkness of the night and the black cassocks. A frosty film noir in which, just a few years before the collapse of the totalitarian system, the forces of history and the servants of two powers and two belief systems collide.
by Ivan Ostrochovský
with Samuel Skyva, Samuel Polakovič, Vlad Ivanov, Vladimír Strnisko, Milan Mikulčík, Tomáš Turek, Vladimír Zboroň, Martin Šulík, Vladimír Obšil, Zvonko Lakčević
Slovakia / Romania / Czechia / Ireland 2020 Slovak 80’ Black/White World premiere


  • Samuel Skyva (Juraj)
  • Samuel Polakovič (Michal)
  • Vlad Ivanov (Doctor Ivan)
  • Vladimír Strnisko (Dean)
  • Milan Mikulčík (Spiritual)
  • Tomáš Turek (Ductor)
  • Vladimír Zboroň (Secretary)
  • Martin Šulík (Physician)
  • Vladimír Obšil (Coufar)
  • Zvonko Lakčević (Secret policeman)


Director Ivan Ostrochovský
Screenplay Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Marek Leščák, Ivan Ostrochovský
Cinematography Juraj Chlpík
Editing Jan Daňhel, Martin Malo, Maroš Šlapeta
Music Miroslav Tóth, Cristian Lolea
Sound Design Miroslav Tóth, Michal Novinski
Sound Tobiáš Potočný
Costumes Katarína Hollá
Make-Up Lukáš Král
Assistant Director Pavol Pekarčík, Slavo Zrebný, Martin Malo
Casting Pavol Pekarčík
Production Manager Jana Koršová, Pavel Vácha
Producers Ivan Ostrochovský, Albert Malinovský, Katarína Tomková
Executive Producer Albert Malinovský
Co-Producers Oana Bujgoi Giurgiu, Tudor Giurgiu, Ivana Kurincová, Petr Oukropec, Pavel Strnad, Sam Taylor, Mike Downey, Marek Urban
Co-Production POINT FILM Bukarest
Radio and Television of Slovakia Bratislava
Film and Music Entertainment Dublin
Libra Film Productions Bukarest
Hai Hui Entertainment Bukarest
sentimentalfilm Bratislava

Produced by

Punkchart films

Ivan Ostrochovský

Born in 1972 in Žilina, Slovakia, he studied documentary directing and worked as a director and producer in Bratislava. After making several short documentaries and series, he directed his first feature-length documentary, Velvet Terrorists, which premiered at the 2014 Berlinale and won several awards. His debut fiction feature film, Koza, screened at the Berlinale in 2015, received various awards and was selected as Slovakia’s 2016 Oscar entry.

Filmography (selection)

2010 Ilja; Short Documentary 2012 Celluloid Country; TV Documentary Series 2013 Zamatoví teroristi (Velvet Terrorists) 2014 Pavol Šimai; TV Documentary Series / episode 2015 Koza · Garda (The Guard); TV Documentary 2020 Služobníci (Servants)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020