Brothers is the International Feature submission for Czechia. The film takes place in Prague in 1950. It follows brothers Josef and Ctirad Masin after the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia. Their father was murdered in prison eight years before, due to his anti-Nazi resistance group, and they’re now trying to adjust to their new lives, along with their mother, Zdena, and their sister Nenda. Zdena forcibly refuses to conform to Communism and as a result the backlash is swift. Josef and Ctirad are denied access to continue their studies and later, the entire family is evicted from their home. They end up in a decrepit farmhouse outside of Prague. Influenced by their father’s belief, and outraged at their recent treatment, both brothers begin a plan to respond back to the tyranny.
The Masins shared the idea that the Americans, who had helped establish Czechoslovakia, would soon come and wipe out Communism. After hearing on a radio station, broadcasted by the Americans, that an imminent invasion was on the way, and that help was needed, the two brothers, along with a group of a few friends, decide to form a military resistance. The boys begin a series of acts against the oppressive regime, some of them involving killing policemen. They also hatch a plan to escape their own country and flee to West Germany to join the American forces in their battle against the regime.
Czechoslovakia became a satellite state of the Soviet Union during this time. Following Joseph Stalin’s brutal and nightmarish leadership, the country fell into a heavy state of surveillance, mistrust and destruction. Nationwide purges were being carried out by the Communist party. There was no freedom. People were facing show trials. Families were ripped apart and many tried to flee to neighbouring countries. This happened to the Masin family as well. As each member of the family resisted oppression in their own way, each one of them suffered due to their belief for a better life.
When Josef and Ctirad began their fight against the regime, it felt right, justifiable and heroic. But as the violence began to add up, it felt like the two brothers were perhaps having second thoughts about everything that they were doing, but that they were too deep in the mix of it all to stop anymore. Their actions were well-intended, understandable and the right thing to do, at times, but the horrifying consequences that it had on their family and friends was devastating. Wars are tragic wastes, good guys commit atrocities, bad guys can show mercy. The moral ambiguity of war is always at the forefront when deaths of innocent lives and needless violence begins to add up.
These two brothers caused one of the largest manhunts in modern European history. Even today in Czech society, the brothers are both famous and beloved but also infamous and despised for what transpired during this period of crisis.