Portrait of a powerful leader

Informative Evening

Film screenings, other than international film festivals, are few and scattered in the City.

Thus, when a rare film is on offer and that too without the ticket price attached to it, what you expect is a crowd making their way in. This wasn’t the case with the film ‘Remembering Vaclav Havel’, that was screened at Alliance Francaise, recently. The crowd was sparse. All those attending the event seemed either fans of international cinema or those craving for a well-made political film.

‘Remembering Vaclav Havel’ did fit the bill of a well-made political film. The evening started with a small introduction that gave the audience a peek into the political scenario of Czech Republic after it gained independence as a country. This was preceeded by the ‘Velvet Revolution’ that resulted in the breaking up of Czechoslovakia. A new political system was in order, and the political leaders were out to create history. Communist rule had come to an end and it was through popular choice that Vaclav Havel was elected the independent country’s first President.

Havel, who had on his shoulders the task of rebuilding a nation and forming its very institutions, had ideas of his own. He called on filmmaker Pavel Koutecký to film and document the everyday tasks that would eventually lead to the formation of a strong nation-state. Koutecký, it is believed, had complete access to the President, confidential meetings and nearly everything the film would entail.

Filmed over 10 years, the material offers political commentary and has unintended bits of wit.  The film opens with Havel preparing for the impending elections, his being elected and the reactions that follow. Conversations and incidents go out to show the man’s modesty and his popularity among his people.

Also part of the film are visits to the Czech Republic by those like the ‘Rolling Stones’ and former US President Bill Clinton.

The material was released several years after its filming and was premiered in 2008 in Prague. Two years prior to the release, the filmmaker passed away, leaving behind a maze of footage. Miroslav Janek put together the material to finally release a full-length film. One of a kind, ‘Remembering Vaclav Havel’ is an endearing film that goes into the life a leader, a man and the intimate life of a nation.

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