The Boston Phoenix
Review from issue: September 14 - 21, 2000

[Boston Film Festival]

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A Trial in Prague

A Phoenix pick

Maybe one reason the Communists lost the Cold War is they didn't play fair, especially with their own side. As demonstrated in Zuzana Justman's stolid documentary, one of the most shameful examples of this self-inflicted perfidy was the Czech show trials of 1952, in which 14 dedicated aparatchiks, including the country's second most powerful official, Rudolf Slansky, were convicted of treason, and all but three were executed. Their crime? They were accused of collaborating with every enemy of the state from the Gestapo to the Israeli government, but more to the point, 11 of them were Jews and ready scapegoats for Stalin's paranoia. Interweaving the present-day, often moving testimony of survivors with sometimes clunky period footage, Trial tells a tale that even Kafka would find hard to imagine of how zealous party members were transformed into automatons confessing fabricated crimes, invoking the same anti-Semitism that had brought on the Holocaust only a few years before. The most tragic lesson of this harrowing and enlightening film is how idealism and innocence can be the ultimate tools of tyrants. Screens Thursdqay, September 14th at 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 and 4:15 p.m.

-- Peter Keough

Film Festival Feature Films

Shadow of the Vampire | Songcatcher | Venus Beauty Institute | What's Cooking? | The Broken Hearts Club | Envy | Goya in Bordeaux | Human Resources | Skipped Parts | Amargosa | Henry Hill | Relative Values | The Rising Place | The Contender | Pitch People | Roof to Roof | Four Dogs Playing Poker | Reckless Indifference | Requiem for a Dream | Shadow Magic | About Adam | Charming Billy | Enemies of Laughter | Into the Arms of Strangers | Running on the Sun | A Trial in Prague | Harry, He's Here to Help | A Man is Mostly Water | Seven Girlfriends

Also, Boston Film Festival short films

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