22-10-2019

In Search of Lost Evidence: Barbora Berezňáková recalls a story that “Never Happened”

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Barbora Berezňáková's anachronistic documentary about elitist crimes in the late 1990s ofBarbora Berezňáková's anachronistic documentary about elitist crimes in the late 1990s ofSlovakia, Never Happened, considers a man’s confession against notions produced by thehegemony in the country. The director tries to draw a picture of the emotional strugglecaused by being a witness to governmental machination - the end result is remarkableexample of self-reflection.

Oskar Fegyveres, a former Slovak secret policeman, was one of the few witnesses to thekidnapping of the president’s son. After he broke his silence and was forced to leave thecountry, one of his best friends Robert Remiáš was killed by a car explosion. Remiáš wasinvolved in the kidnapping story after Fegyveres’s recognition of the crime so the Fegyveressuffers from a guilty conscience and puts charges against himself concerning events back inthe 90s.

Fegyveres leads the camera to crime scenes revealing his grief at being involved. Thedirector ridicules the hegemonic propaganda that has been spread about Fegyveres in theyears since, by asking random people in the street what they remember from the case -most of them accuse him being involved in Mafia. Berezňáková draws an image where oneof the convicted is revealed as a victim of circumstances.

Half of the footage is restored material from TV news in 90s merging with quasi-documentarystyle, which also tries to reconstruct the ambience of the period, while additional scenes in thesimple stylistics of modern documentary - and that’s what creates most anachronistic look ofthe film.

The script is confronting the points of view of random people against those who were actuallyinvolved in the crime, reconstructing with the combination of archive and modern era material,which makes the end result complex to follow. In one scene Fegyveres is remembering wherehe was hiding after his escape and this is followed by journalist’s speech of what professionwhat he wanted to choose as an adult – a naïve editing decision.

Never Happened tells a story that everybody knows happened but in a different way. It’sintriguing, confronting perceived ideas against actual facts. Every time Fegyveres is seen, thecamera is fixed on his back, which is his point of view and later on his face – his emotional state.This editing technique us self-reflective as it reveals Oskar watching himself in the mostobnoxious way and the audience becomes part of the observation.