It’s interesting to see the path one must take to achieve his or her goal in a place where pursuing one’s idea is banned.
Czech filmmaker Andrea Sedlackova brings us back to the early 1980s in Communist Czechoslovakia in her film, Fair Play. She registers the impact of a grim system through a mother and a daughter in the competitive and promising field of sports. In a society where boundaries are crossed and practices go unquestioned, people carry little choice and severe consequences. A mother and daughter’s dreams are plagued by the system and they must make painful sacrifices in order to protect one another.
Anna (Judit Bardos) is a young talented runner who is recruited for the national team and trains to qualify for the Olympics. There, she is required to join a secretive medical program where she receives doses of stromba, which she is told is simply a strong vitamin but is in fact, an anabolic steroid that is illegal and dangerous.
Her mother, Irena (Anna Geislerova) hopes the Olympics will be an opportunity for Anna to emigrate to the West. Irena who once had a promising life as a professional athlete herself, now finds herself in the secret police’s radar due to personal choices made. Knowing the cruel place that they dwell in, she does everything she can to see her daughter get out and move West.
Professional sports serves as a stepping-stone into the real world for Anna. She learns of the unethical practices that are implemented under the Communist regime, inhibiting her from pursuing her goals and stripping away her self-worth. As she is doped up with illegal substances, Anna begins to realize that in her world, sacrifices must be made in order to preserve her dignity.
Fair Play is a story of the fight for dignity and truth in extreme and intolerable situations. It’s also a story of a mother and daughter who try to come to terms with the immoral situation that they face by making painful choices. And how choice is played between a parent and a child is rather interesting and universal.
Sedlackova brings in two strong actresses that convincingly portray hardship, dilemma, and loss. Her use of grey and faded tones exudes bleak images that are often contrasted with a hint of red, implying the omnipresent Communism.
Fair Play was screened at the USC School of Cinematic Arts as part of the fourth annual Czech That Film Festival.