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The Teacher

(Ucitelka)
Slovakia/Czech Republic 2016. Dir: Jan Hřebejk. 103 min. Blu-ray Disc

Marvelous Slovak player Zuzana Mauréry garnered heaps of praise and a Best Actress prize at Karlovy Vary for her ferocious performance as a shady grade-school educator in this caustic, Communist-era drama from seasoned Czech cinéaste Jan Hřebejk (Divided We Fall, Up and Down). Comrade Drazdechová (Mauréry) is a newly-appointed teacher and Communist Party chairperson at a middle school in early-1980s Bratislava. After taking an odd interest in the occupations of her students’ guardians, it is revealed that the untouchable new teach is behind an extortion racket that has the school’s parents performing personal favours — say, a haircut, an appliance repair, the smuggling of an illegal package! — in order to keep their kids’ academic standings in check. “Exceptional ... A multifaceted understanding of human nature with a fastidious control of technique and style” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times). In Slovak with English subtitles.