Screened as part of NZIFF 2017

The Teacher 2016

Učitelka

Directed by Jan Hřebejk

When accused of bartering her students’ grades for goods and services provided by their parents, a schoolteacher mounts a devious defence in this blackly funny dramedy set in the communist era.

Czech Republic / Slovakia In Slovak with English subtitles
102 minutes DCP

Director

Producers

Tibor Búza
,
Zuzana Mistríková
,
Ľubica Orechovská
,
Ondřej Zima
,
Jan Prušinovský
,
Kateřiny Ondřejkové

Screenplay

Petr Jarchovský

Photography

Martin Žiaran

Editor

Vladimír Barák

Production designer

Juraj Fábry

Costume designer

Katarína Štrbová Bieliková

Music

Michal Novinski

With

Zuzana Mauréry (Marie Drazděchová)
,
Csongor Kassai (Marek Kučera)
,
Peter Bebjak (Václav Littmann)
,
Martin Havelka (Jaroslav Binder)
,
Ondřej Malý (pensioner Řehák)
,
Éva Bandor (Hana Binderová)
,
Zuzana Konečná (Iveta Kučerová)
,
Richard Labuda (Karol Littmann)
,
Oliver Oswald (Filip Binder)
,
Tamara Fischer (Danka Kučerová)
,
Ina Gogálová (school head teacher)
,
Monika Čertezni (deputy Chvalovská)

Festivals

Karlovy Vary
,
Busan 2016

A communist-era schoolroom is a microcosm of outrageous political favouritism in this highly enjoyable return to form from Czech director Jan Hřebejk (Divided We Fall). The setting is Bratislava in 1983, drolly evoked in an array of wacky wallpapers and goofy sweaters, where a parent–teacher meeting is hearing the case against the eponymous Comrade Drazděchová. Under her watch some of the brightest pupils have been receiving the poorest grades. Their aggrieved parents claim that she aids and abets other pupils in direct proportion to the goods and services she receives from their parents: a free haircut here, free electrical repairs there. Even more intimate favours have been suggested. What can the parents of the successful students say in response to such slanders? Their faked rectitude is astutely caricatured in a nimbly scripted, increasingly tense battle of wits.

While the accusers fret and stew, their hapless children suffer the consequences, and we root against the odds for the bully’s comeuppance. In the title role Zuzana Mauréry is a sneaky, deplorable wonder, a richly realised screen villain surpassed in 2017 only by her real-world equivalents.