Many Czechs remember the concert of American folk musician Joan Baez’s in Bratislava on 10 June 1989 as one of the signs of the approaching fall of communism. During the concert Baez openly expressed her support for Czechoslovak opposition groups and to Václav Havel, who managed to smuggle himself into the concert hall pretending to be a roadie. Her stay in Bratislava was closely observed by the communist State Security services, but they missed the Czechoslovak dissident who fit into his pretended role by carrying her guitar.
A director who documented the last few years of Václav Havel’s life has
received more than twice the initial amount he sought through a Czech
crowdfunding site to begin work on editing his film.
Petr Jančárek, who worked with the late Czech president from 2009 to 2011, shot some 200 hours of material that will be edited for a feature-length documentary.
He had sought 400,000 crowns in public donations through the crowdfunding site HitHit but received more than 1 million crowns in the first 10 days. Jančárek will continue trying to raise money through crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo, his representative told ČTK.
Entitled “This is Havel, Can You Hear Me?”, the documentary is set to premiere in November 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and the fall of Communism in Europe.
Jančárek is hoping to get the rights for songs by some of Havel’s favourite musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and David Bowie, for a symbolic price.
Otakar Dušek is a designer and artist with a passion for history and historical justice – something he hopes to instil in his students at the prestigious Václav Hollar School of Art in Prague. That passion helped propel him from a teacher of graphic design, fonts and computer graphics to world renowned medallist – an artist specialising in commemorative medals.
The Václav Havel Library in Prague follows the US presidential library model in gathering and archiving materials relating to the late Czech dissident turned head of state. In the US, Havel’s legacy is promoted by sister organisation the Václav Havel Library Foundation, which is based at the Bohemian National Hall in New York. The latter is headed by Pavla Niklová, a former director of the city’s Czech Center. When we met, Niklová explained the relationship between the foundation and the library itself.
Tuesday marks the seventh anniversary of the death of Václav Havel. The former president remains a much respected figure in the country, even though his quotes are often used to help delineate the current divide in Czech society. Several commemorative events are taking place across the Czech Republic, including those that seek to bring Havel closer through his works.
The Czech Film Fund will spend CZK 64 million on supporting eight upcoming feature films. The largest amount, some CZK 14.5 million, will help fund an upcoming biographical film about Václav Havel. According to the fund’s director Helena Bezděk Fraňková, the films cover a wide range of genres including historical pictures, those covering present day issues and a film for children.
The State Fund for Cinematography has agreed to subsidize eight Czech films
to the tune of 64 million crowns. The highest single subsidy was granted to
a biographical film on the life of Václav Havel produced by Slávek
The film will cover Havel’s life from 1968 to 1989 when the dissident writer was elected president of Czechoslovakia. The project received a subsidy of 14.5 million crowns.
In December 1988 Francois Mitterrand had breakfast with leading dissidents in Prague, providing a major shot in the arm to the Czechoslovak opposition. The Czech Foreign Ministry is now reported to be planning similar events on the 30th anniversary of Mitterrand’s gesture to demonstrate the country’s support for human rights.
Taking advantage of relative liberalisation at home, the young Václav Havel visited New York in the spring of 1968 for the US premiere of his second major play, The Memorandum. It was staged by the Public Theater, which had just had a huge hit with Hair and was headed by director Joseph Papp. He and his wife Gail Papp got to know Havel at that time – and later visited the then dissident at his country home in communist Czechoslovakia.