On Sunday, October 16th, members of the FOS Board and others from the Slovak American community attended the U.S. premiere screening of the documentary film, The Killing of a Journalist. The documentary was a part of DOUBLE EXPOSURE, the United States’ first and only film festival dedicated to the intersection between investigative reporting and visual storytelling. It pairs the finest new investigative documentaries with an immersive professional symposium that brings together watchdog journalists and filmmakers venturing into investigative storytelling. The film showing took place at the Naval Heritage Center in Washington, D.C. The film’s premiere showing was also available online.
The film was produced by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Final Cut for Real. Directed by OCCRP’s Matt Sarnecki, the film tells the story of the 2018 murders of OCCRP’s Slovak journalist and colleague Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. On the night of February 21, 2018, investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, both just 27 years old, were brutally murdered in their home. It was the first targeted killing of a journalist in Slovakia’s history, and shocked citizens protested on a scale not seen since the fall of communism. Kuciak was well known for covering questionable financial connections between politicians and “elite” business tycoons, namely millionaire Marián Kocner. Journalists mobilized the public when police failed to investigate the prime suspect meaningfully. Leaked files, Kuciak’s posthumous reports, and civic outcry led to scandalous discoveries of decades-old corruption networks involving Kocner, the police chief, high-ranking bureaucrats, and the prime minister himself.
“I made this film to honor the legacy of Ján and Martina, two young people who were working to build a better, more just Slovakia,” said Sarnecki about the documentary. The film was produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen from Final Cut for Real, a five-time Oscar®-nominated and four-time Sundance-winning production company based in Denmark. After the film showing, Director Sarnecki participated in a lively Q&A session with the audience. Viewers found the film to be an excellent treatment of the Kuciak incident that provided a rare glimpse of the underside of Slovak life and politics.