email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on reddit pin on Pinterest

PRODUCTION / FUNDING USA / Denmark / Czech Republic

Documentary The Killing of a Journalist to premiere at Hot Docs

by 

- Matt Sarnecki pays tribute to slain Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, while simultaneously following a story about rampant corruption

Documentary The Killing of a Journalist to premiere at Hot Docs
The Killing of a Journalist by Matt Sarnecki

The documentary The Killing of a Journalist [+see also:
film review
film profile
]
, which centres on the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, and the aftermath of this tragic event, will world-premiere at the upcoming edition of the Hot Docs Film Festival, North America’s largest documentary film gathering (28 April-8 May), in its International Spectrum section. The murder sent shock waves through Slovak society and resonated internationally, kick-starting the exposure of politicians’ entanglement with business tycoons and oligarchs.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

The topic had already been tackled by domestic filmmaker Zuzana Piussi in The State Capture (see the news) and partially in the follow-up documentary, Ordeal (see the news), focusing largely on the corruption of the justice system. “I made the film because the story has a twist that unveils a deeper, more shocking account of large-scale corruption – a never-before-seen blueprint of how it works – and is a testament to the power of investigative journalism,” says the director of The Killing of a Journalist, Matt Sarnecki, a US journalist based in Romania, who is the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s (OCCRP’s) video editor.

Ján Kuciak, who was part of the OCCRP, was killed because of his work; his death, and that of his fiancée, who was with him when the killing occurred, sparked the biggest protests in Slovakia since the fall of communism. It was the first ordered assassination of a journalist in the country’s history. Czech investigative journalist Pavla Holcová, who appears in the documentary, used leaked police files and Kuciak’s posthumous reports to reveal a wide-ranging and long-term network of corruption “at the highest levels of Slovak society – oligarchs, politicians, police and judges”. The Killing of a Journalist is not solely a testament to the work of Ján Kuciak, but also to the power of, and need for, investigative journalism.

“Ján worked at the nexus of politics and organised crime – the most dangerous beat in journalism,” said OCCRP co-founders Drew Sullivan and Paul Radu, the film’s executive producers. “Matt has made a profound film that shows the tragic loss of a gifted journalist, but also how that loss blossomed into a citizen-led revolution that felled a crooked government. We are grateful for Final Cut for Real’s partnership and are looking forward to premiering our first joint project at Hot Docs. This film is a testament to our credo: killing a journalist will not kill the story.”

“The perspective of the director provides an overview of our society on a wider - global - scale, and we saw this as an important reason for getting involved in the making of the film,” says Jitka Kotrlová, of Frame Films. “Matt Sarnecki closely follows the events and, through testimonies from Ján Kuciak's closest associates, as well as case investigators and lawyers, seeks to uncover the behind-the-scenes goings-on of the murder, extortion, and high-level corruption,” she adds.

The Killing of a Journalist was produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen, of Final Cut for Real, a five-time Oscar-nominated (Flee [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
film profile
]
, The Act of Killing [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, The Look of Silence [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) and four-time Sundance-winning production company based in Denmark, and the OCCRP (USA). It was co-produced by Frame Films (Czech Republic) and GotFat Productions (Denmark). The movie was supported by the Czech Film Fund, the West Danish Film Fund, WDR, ARTE, the BBC, DR, SVT and NRK. The international sales are handled by Cinephil.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy