The Teacher

Jan Hrebejk

At a primary school in Czechoslovakia in 1983, a teacher with good contacts with the Communist Party uses her own evaluation system: she asks parents for favours and services in exchange for good marks for their child. Anyone who refuses becomes a scapegoat. A handful of parents resist, but most of them would rather bury their heads in the sand.

Since Maria Drazdechova, a teacher at a Czechoslovakian primary school, has been making the decisions, the whole world has been turned upside down for the children and their parents. At the beginning of the school year, the teacher asks each pupil what their parents do for a living. She keeps close track of that information in a notebook, and then asks the parents for favours and services. One of the mothers is a hairdresser, so she cuts the teacher’s hair. Another is a butcher and provides her with the best cuts of meat. A handyman repairs her broken lamp. In exchange, the children get good marks.

Since Maria has good contacts with the Communist Party and has family in Moscow, most of the people do not dare to refuse her anything. Anyone who resisted would disadvantage their own child, who would get poor marks in school and be turned into the scapegoat of the class. When the teacher’s activities start to run rampant, a number of parents decide to rebel. The headmaster organises a special night where the parents meet up to talk about the affairs at school, hoping to sign a petition to have the teacher fired. But when it comes down to it, it turns out that not everyone has the courage to speak out openly about the unfair treatment of their children.


Jan Hrebejk
Country of production
Slovakia, Czech Republic
102 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Česká televize
World Sales
Dutch distributor
September Film Distribution