“I, Olga Hepnarová” – 2016 Fantasia Film Review

“I am a loner. A destroyed woman. A woman destroyed by people… I have a choice – to kill myself or to kill others. I choose TO PAY BACK MY HATERS. It would be too easy to leave this world as an unknown suicide victim. Society is too indifferent, rightly so. My verdict is: I, Olga Hepnarová, the victim of your bestiality, sentence you to death.” – Olga Hepnarová

As infamous for her written statement of intent, as for her horrible crime, Olga Hepnarová – who was hung in 1975 – was the last woman to be executed in Czechoslovakia.  Neither justifying or condemning her, “I, Olga Hepnarová” instead simply observes the lonely, alienated woman who considered herself a “Prügelknabe”: a scapegoat, a “whipping boy,” a victim of bullying.

The film can be as painful to watch as it is fascinating, Hepnarová’s story being told largely in her own words…words that target you and me.  Viewers may in fact feel as if they have been assigned a critical suicide watch, daring not look away for fear of being judged complicit in ignoring this young woman’s pain.  Not an easy film, perhaps, but an important one.

“I, Olga Hepnarová” screened at the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival on Wednesday, July 20.  It will screen again Monday, July 25 at 3 p.m.