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Series Mania Picks Political Drama ‘Our People’ About Murder of Journalist Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová: ‘Studying Police Files, We Were Reminded of ‘Fargo’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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Slovakia’s explosive political drama “Our People” will head to Series Mania’s Forum Co-Pro Pitching Sessions in March. 

Produced by Jakub Viktorín and Tomáš Hrubý for nutprodukcia and written by Miro Šifra, it will be directed by Tereza Nvotová. 

The miniseries, inspired by tragic real events, depicts the killing of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová. 

Kuciak used to focus on tax frauds committed by business figures and alleged connections between local politicians and the Italian mafia. They were assassinated in 2018 in their home. 

“We not only have their family’s consent, but also tens of thousands of pages of case files,” said Šifra. 

“These documents provide a detailed and fascinating glimpse into the interplay between the state and the mafia. They also highlight the courage of those who risk their lives to expose this.” 

Talking to Variety, the team admitted to “drawing heavily” on over 50,000 pages of case files, as well as personal interviews with those close to the victims.

Nvotová noted: “The murders of Ján and Martina are a painful reminder that free speech in Slovakia is still under threat of deadly violence. I don’t have much hope anymore that these crimes will ever be punished, and it’s no surprise that we have trouble finding Slovak broadcasting partners.” 

Being spotlighted at an international event is crucial for the future of the project, she stated. 

“This is why I’m excited to have been chosen for Series Mania: to find outside partners unburdened by fear, so the series can hopefully be made as soon as possible, while it matters the most.” 

Šifra and Nvotová mention Adam McKay’s oeuvre as inspiration, especially his use of humor while dealing with weighty subjects in the likes of “The Big Short” and “Vice,” as well as another satire mixing laughs and bouts of the most shocking violence. 

Miro Sifra, Tereza Nvotova, Tomas Hruby, Jakub Viktorín

“While studying police files, we were reminded of ‘Fargo’: both the film and the series. Slovak society shares a similar, bizarre sort of darkness,” they said. 

In the series, they will follow people on both sides of the law. From the “tragically talented” young journalist to cash-strapped former cop who murders him, from a corrupt businessman and his mistress to a rookie investigator who still refuses to be bought. 

“It’s a portrait of a country where the powerful have acted with total impunity for a little too long and now we’re seeing the moment that breaks the camel’s back. We’re keeping things local, because we are big believers in the personal being universal,” they stressed.

Miro Šifra, fresh off spotlighting another show “We’re on It Comrades” at Berlinale Series Market Selects, a ZDF Studios-sold comedy with a whiff of “The X Files,” is interested in showing there is an engaging array of stories “in our often-overlooked corner of Central Europe.” 

But, as he noticed alongside Nvotová, even the most enduring democracies seem to be suffering the very same symptoms of decay. 

“Wherever you go, there’s some populist demagogue peddling conspiracy theories, playing with identity politics and generally doing whatever they can to make people fearful and suspicious of one another. And, [as a result], easily controlled.”

“Journalists in particular have become easy targets, whether it’s Ján Kuciak in Slovakia, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi or Jeff German in the U.S. [killed in 2018 and 2022 respectively]. This is a story of a worldwide epidemic.”