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i'm not a bad man

2024 | documentary film

bulgaria | slovakia | czech republic

in post-production

70 min

i'm not a bad man

2024 | documentary film

bulgaria | slovakia | czech republic

in post-production

70 min

logline

A former Warsaw Pact soldier travels to Prague for the first time in 55 years and meets a man who was on the streets protesting the very occupation the soldier was a part of in 1968.

synopsis

A few years ago, at my uncle’s 70th birthday, I brought along a Czech friend of mine. The two got along quite well, despite the 40-year age gap. A few hours into their conversation, my uncle asked my friend where he was from. “Prague”. My uncle exclaimed cheerfully: “I’ve been to Prague!” – “Oh really? When?” My uncle stopped and thought for a while, trying to figure out the exact year. Then, the turning point came – “In 1968”, he responded.

Jan’s face froze in silent horror. My uncle sobered up quickly and, putting both of his hands on his heart, started repeating one phrase frantically: “I’m not a bad man! I swear, I’m not a bad man!”

My uncle hasn’t gone back to Prague since the invasion. This project changed that. There, he confronted his past by meeting someone who was there, on the street, protesting the very invasion he was a part of.

War is a complicated matter and even more so when you’re 19. What did he think? Did he have a choice? Is forgiveness on the table?

director's note

This film isn’t about the USSR or Bulgaria, nor about Czechoslovakia. This is an anti-war film. This is a film that will ask of you to understand that the good and the bad guys don’t exist on the level of power that controls when and where a war breaks out. The good and bad guys are us – the little people. The ones who choose our governments and choose what to believe and how much research to do. The ones who can see truths beyond what media and news outlets tell us and who criticize the people in control of our destinies. The good and the bad people aren’t in charge but they still have a voice. It’s easy to pick a side. But it’s necessary to search for the truth beyond those sides. “I’m not a bad man” follows an occupant back into the territory he once invaded. It brings him in conversation with those he invaded, and it gives him the chance to show his side of the story. Hopefully, it will help us understand that giving teenagers guns and forcing them into dangerous situations – in 1968, and today – is an unlawful and terrifying way to govern people. This film is a journey through the inhumanity of war and the cruelty of forcing people to believe in its virtues. Let’s take this journey together.

crew

director nadya todorova

writer nadya todorova

director of photography maria tsvetkova

producer radka georgieva

co-producer anastas shipkov

co-producers nukleon frame

peter pochadéla konečnávojtěch konečný

financially supported by

stills