Hot Docs 2022: “The Killing of a Journalist”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The job of a journalist is in itself a dangerous profession. You never know which subject, persona or concept can trigger an individual the published article may directly involve. It’s just the way it happens. Journalists are always a target. But who, how and when they will be targeted is an answer, sadly, too often being answered definitely.

“The Killing of a Journalist” follows the high profile murder of Slovak investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak, and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, on the night of February 21, 2018, when they were just about to enjoy their evening coffee. The heinous double murder shook the country, scrambled politicians and echoed the reflection of a corrupt country that will trigger mass protests, dozens of resignations and an investigation that, only in the right hands of prosecutors can advance further.

Directed by Matt Sarnecki, “The Killing of a Journalist” provides a closer look at the primary suspect, millionaire Marián Kocner, the journalist made his primary target during his investigation. Irritated, exposed and angry, Kocner threatens the journalist, which turns out to be the truth when the young man gets killed at his home. Through the high profile interviews and outstanding archival footage, the film, step-by-step, recreates the tragic night and leads us to the event that swiftly begins to unfold.

Democracy cannot be killed, threatened at gunpoint or destroyed. But it can be eliminated, weakened and become irrelevant in the hands of corrupt politicians, oligarchs and the police system that could follow the same criminal path. The death of Ján Kuciak turns out to be the gamechanger when the same people in the government could no longer dictate the will of a nation. And, fortunately, one way or another, “The Killing of a Journalist” is nothing more but a testament to the strong power of a nation that, if it wants, can turn the whole country upside down and bring those that are guilty to a imminent justice.

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