Only a moment ago, 19-year-old medical student Ludmilla Cervanova had smiled into the camera. Her body was found in a river in a small Slovak town in 1976. Seven men were responsible for the horrifying rape and death of the girl. Fortunately, the perpetrators were apprehended and condemned. But though Ludmilla was drowned alive, oddly enough no signs of violence could be found on the body. Though the murderers have been in prison for years, not one of them can remember the terrible crime. Though a number of witnesses confirmed the innocence of the condemned men, none of them was heard in court. Robert Kirchhoff lets these people talk; many others fall silent when faced with his questions about plausible facts. He delves deeply into a case that has remained an unsolved puzzle in Slovak history until today. He reconstructs a “map of events” and paints a picture that shows power, its abuse, manipulation, the perfidiousness of intelligence services and the political machinations of a country. “Normalization” demonstrates in the best sense what film is capable of. And the truth is still concealed behind the innocent smile of a 19-year-old girl. Claudia Lehmann
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