Vaclav Havel on Film

It seems strange that on the day of the death of Vaclav Havel, I posted several texts on the high quality of the IDF (Institute of Film) website (see below) and now I do it again to make you know the text published there to remember Vaclav Havel, and the many films he took part in. Read here:

Former Czech President, dissident, prolific playwright, essayist, and film director Václav Havel (October 5, 1936 – December 18, 2011) appeared in countless documentary films that closely traced both his political moves and moments from his personal life. Here are just some of them…

In 2003, David Remnick of the The New Yorker described Václav Havel’s last day in office as follows: “On Sunday night, February 2nd, Czech radio and television broadcast Havel’s farewell address. He took pains to thank his wife and his supporters. To all those who felt disappointed “or have simply found me hateful, I sincerely apologize and trust that you will forgive me.” Havel flashed his country the peace sign and his work was done.” [David Remnick, “Exit Havel”, The New Yorker, 10 February 2003].

Havel’s work and role were incredibly difficult, crucial and irreplaceable, as any of these documentary films attest. Although he was never too comfortable in front of the camera – probably much happier when staging his own scenes in Leaving – many of the films give a good idea of his warm and charismatic personality, doing away with the myth of a shy, awkward president and revealing instead his calm yet strong-willed determination.

Screened at Visions du réel, Crossing Europe, Hot Docs, DOK Leipzig, Berlinale’s Forum and other festivals, Citizen Havel (2008) may be the best-known film on Havel. Shot over the span of 13 years, it was originally helmed by Pavel Koutecký who made a number of other Havel-themed docs. After Koutecký’s death in 2006, the project was taken up by director and cinematographer Míra Janek.

Please watch them if you get a chance, Václav Havel, Prague – Castle can be streamed in East Silver’s video library; many of them are available on the VOD portal Doc Alliance Films.

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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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