Miroslav Janek: Olga/ 3

The Czech production company Film&Sociology was so kind to send me a vimeo link so I could watch Janek’s film on Olga Havlova, which I had read about passionately because of ”Citizen Havel”, where she is very much present with her husband Vaclav, a film shot by Pavel Koutecky and put together by Miroslav Janek. 160.000 saw the film in Czech cinemas.

The film about Olga lives totally up to what I had expected. It is lively, entertaining, has wonderful archive material (Olga died in 1996) and gives the atmosphere of a period, where she like her husband, who was in prison several times, was under constant surveillance by the secret police. And later on was ”equipped” with bodyguards to accompany her as ”the first Lady” of the country. The bodyguards talk in the film as do several members of the group of dissidents – about the jolly underground meetings and parties they had, often initiated by Olga, who is praised – just one out of many words and sentences –  for her subtle humour. And about Charter 77, the samizdat activity, the Movement for Civic Freedom. The way the surveillance reports are conveyed gives the film this typical absurdity you often find in Czech cinema

It’s history and it’s a film about a woman with an extraordinary charisma. She did not like (her husband says so) the pomposity of being ”the first lady”, she loved the theatre, she was an usher, she was Havel’s first dramaturg and the one, who often had to ”bring him down to earth”.

Many words are taken from her memoirs and Janek found a woman, who knew Olga, and had the kind of voice she had to read pages about her upbringing in communist Czechoslovakia. Editor Tonicka Jankova and director Miroslav Janek have done a great work to make this archive film fresh to watch. The montage is brilliant. Janek has said that he – in ”Citizen Havel” – could feel ”her persona”. Director and editor has succeeded to offer the audience the same. You never get really close to Olga, she wanted to keep her integrity and dignity, the filmmakers respect that dignity, her unsentimentality and humour – it is a film full of admiration for the protagonist, playful, informative, what more could you ask for?

Czech Republic, 2014, 87 mins.


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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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