Kveto Hecko Headshot KVETO HECKO

From Beneath the Tatras Underneath Fuji

(1992) 50min

Documentary film about the three Slovak Salesian priests who left Slovakia for their missionary work in Japan and where they have spent their whole fruitful lives

The main characters in this movie are the Slovak Catholic priests that left Czechoslovak republic to pursue their missionary duties in Japan. Since the early times of the WWII and after, Don Figura, Don Suchan, and Don Foltin subsequently embarked on their journeys to Japan. Being persecuted by the communist regime each of them tells his special account on how they left Slovakia and what they did the whole life in Japan, where they took care of orphans, build the kindergartens, middle and high schools. Each of them spent about half century in Japan where they learned to speak,read, and write in Japanese. This helped them to understand and cope with their lives not only as a Catholic priests, but as a common people and survive. For decades they couldn’t meet their relatives back in Czechoslovakia, because they would end up in prisons for emigrating from the socialist country. Once the European Iron Curtain fell in 1989, they could again go back and meet their love ones. The movie follows their personal histories, achievements and finally shows us their new possibility of coming back to their Slovakia homeland. But their lives has become so interconnected with Japanese country, culture, and society over the years, that all of them has decided to stay in Japan.

Three Slovak priests have to admit that their mission wasn’t very successful in terms of gaining the big number of Japanese souls for the Catholic religion. However, we can see from their deeds already how they and the Don Bosco order they belong to, contributed to the Japanese society by building the educational institutions and upbringing young Japanese.

If you are interested in a documentary, that also portraits a person, persecuted for decades by totalitarian regime, watch the documentary And the Last Will Be the First.

Director, Writer
Kveto Hecko
Nina Heckova, Kveto Hecko
Slovak Television
Film Festivals
Prix Italia, Rome, Italy, 1993