Slovakian director Ivan Ostrochovsky’s sophomore feature is a chillingly austere - and impeccably crafted - look at the nefarious relationship between church and state. The year is 1980 in Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. Two teenage boys, Juraj (Samuel Skyva) and Michal (Samuel Polakovic), arrive at a seminary where they will start on the path to priesthood. The devotional life is not what they would have expected, however. The totalitarian government has infiltrated the Catholic Church and, in collusion with the seminary’s dean, its secret police determines what materials can be read, which priests will be appointed, and which students should be surveilled. The boys must decide whether to conform or to rebel, both options incurring their own form of punishment. Shot in stark monochrome and set to an ominous and haunting score, Servants is taut film noir at its best, mixed with a dystopian horror backdrop that makes the blood run cold – both for its gnawing aesthetic effect and for its eerily topical nature.

"Ivan Ostrochovsky’s (Goat) insidiously flinty, supremely assured and chillingly stylish second feature spins a story which is of utmost relevance today… an unsettling rebuke of government control and ideological manipulation - as well as a sharp cry against compliance with the prevailing status quo." - Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

North American premiere
Director Icon Director
Ivan Ostrochovsky

Samuel Skyva, Samuel Polakovic, Vlad Ivanov, Vladimir Strnisko, Milan Mikulcik, Tomas Turek
Executive Producer Albert Malinovsky
Producer Ivan Ostrochovsky, Albert Malinovsky, Katarina Tomkova
Screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Marek Lescak, Ivan Ostrochovsky
Cinematographer Juraj Chlpik
Editor Jan Danhel, Martin Malo, Maros Slapeta
Music Miroslav Toth, Cristian Lolea
Production Company Punkchart Films, Point Film, Radio and Television of Slovakia, Negativ, Film and Music Entertainment, Libra Film Productions, Hai Hui Entertainment, sentimentalfilm
Source Loco Films
Slovakia/Romania/Czech Republic/Ireland 2020 80 min. Slovak with English subtitles Official Website | Trailer | Review


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Ostrochovsky, Ivan headshot


The Slovak director Ivan Ostrochovsky is born in 1972 in Zilina. After several documentary shorts and series, Ivan directed his feature documentary debut Velvet Terrorists (2013), which premiered at Berlinale 2014, where it won the Tagesspiegel Readers’ Award. His feature debut Koza (2015), celebrated its world premiere at Berlinale 2015. Ivan is also the co-writer of Censor, the latest project by Peter Kerekes. He is a co-owner and producer at sentimentalfilm and Punkchart films.

Velvet Terrorists (2013); Koza (2015)