VIFF 2016: The Teacher

(Czech Republic/Slovakia)

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      Whether read as a political commentary or workplace allegory, anyone who's had to deal with a manipulative diva (male or female) will be able to relate to this morality tale of a teacher who abuses her power and her pupils to spoil herself. It's 1982 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), and Comrade Drazdechova, head of the local Communist Party, coerces the parents of students to do her bidding, such as buying her groceries or repairing her furniture, or else their children will pay the price in school. The burgeoning tensions of this relationship are intercut with a parents' meeting at the school in 1983, in which the school assembles them to discuss accusations about this particular instructor. As essentially a courtroom drama by way of the classroom (with a sardonic sense of humour), this is crowd-pleasing entertainment, powered by a clear delineation of the power struggle (and how far it seeps into the various characters' lives) and a teeth-sinking performance by Zuzana Mauéry in the titular role.   

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