6:30 pm | Ponrepo Cinema
All Together... (Eva Štefankovičová, CSK, 1991, 59´, in Slovak with English subtitles)
Out of the many iconic as well as now forgotten moments of 1989 and 1990, Eva and Leo Štefankovič have created a documentary noteworthy for its pure form and unexpectedly dispassionate perspective. Several months after the Velvet Revolution, it abandons the euphoria of packed town squares and searches for the essence of new-found freedom in confrontation with its various attendant phenomena as well as innocently mangled definitions from the mouths of little children. It doesn’t strive to ostentatiously tear down old or new mythologies but rather to reveal the paradoxes of the post-revolutionary era an (Czecho)Slovak identity in an ironic and keen manner.
8:30 pm | Ponrepo Cinema
Rodeo (Raimo Jõerand, Kiur Aarma, EE, FI, 2018, 74’, in Estonian with English and Czech subtitles)
It is 1992 and the first free elections held in Estonia since World War II are a surprise to the young power and idealistic political forces. They are led by 32-year-old Mart Laar, Europe’s youngest prime minister, who is charged with crafting a country out of chaos. This is a story about gaining and losing trust, about the widening conflict between idealists and a rising economic elite, when a prime minister’s good options grow fewer by the day.
6 pm | Ponrepo Cinema
Gentle Revolution (Jiří Střecha, Petr Slavík, CZE, 1989, 70’, in Czech with English subtitles)
Gentle Revolution is a documentary film that provides a very immediate reflection of the events of the Velvet Revolution in the days following 17 November: the film was completed on 28 December 1989, just one day prior to the election that made Václav Havel president. Petr Slavík and Jiří Střecha compiled the film from period materials that include newsreel footage from 17 November 1989 by Vítězslav Bojanovský, Ten Days by Jiří Střecha, Conscience Against Violence by Petr Slavík and a Reflection by Martin Tobiáš, plus much more footage, including the film Take a Flower With You: 17 November 1989, a thirty-minute programme summarizing many testimonies concerning the events of 17 November 1989 compiled from footage by students and graduates of FAMU (Petr Kotek, Pavel Štingl, Magda Landsmannová).
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with guests: producer Jarmila Poláková (Film & Sociology), documentary filmmakers Martin Řezníček, Apolena Rychlíková and Martin Kohout. Moderator: Adéla Gjuričová (The Institute of Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences).
6:30 pm | Ponrepo Cinema
New Hyperion or Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood (Karel Vachek, CSK, 1992, 207’, in Czech with English subtitles)
Through a mosaic of events, opinions, and happenings, Karel Vachek records the situation preceding the Czechoslovak elections in 1990. With subtle irony, he juxtaposes various phenomena and, on the screen, portrays the surprising socio-political context of the incredible whirl of the first free elections after the fall of the communist regime. The director is preoccupied with the abundance of goings on in the various social events, political ceremonies, and populist shows, where he is interested in every seemingly unimportant movement or subtle gesture, which transform the film into a diaphragm lens between the apparent and the concealed.
6 pm | Ponrepo Cinema
Future (Josef Harvan, CSK, 1989, 19‘, in Czech with English subtitles)
The Future, directed by Josef Harvan, is a work that is unexpectedly clear-sighted for its time, and a de facto harbinger of events that were literally in the “near future”. Created towards the end of the summer of 1989, the film takes a “survey” of workers, asking them what they think communism is and what is its future. The result is a surprisingly courageous and critical film, supplemented with commentary by Valter Komárek, who was the director of the Institute for Economic Forecasting (Prognostický ústav) at the time and a key figure in the events surrounding 17 November and the post-revolutionary government.
Why Havel? (Vojtěch Jasný, CSK, CAN, 1991, 95‘, in Czech with English subtitles)
At the end of 1989, Václav Havel became the first unanimously democratically elected president of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. This was one of many fundamental historical turning points of the Velvet Revolution, triggered by the events of 17 November. Václav Havel’s renown preceded him. From dissident to president, from brewery to the Prague Castle, the eyes of foreign politicians, media, and celebrities were all on Havel. Who was this person who became the face of the Velvet Revolution for the rest of the world? This is a question that returnee Vojtěch Jasný also asked himself, who then created a unique portrait of Havel as distinctive as its protagonist. The film, which is narrated by the no less distinctive director Miloš Forman, is simultaneously also an important cinematic calling card for Havel, intended for foreign viewers, showing this statesman in many quotidian roles, both formal and informal. Why Havel? is also the first of many documentary films devoted to Václav Havel.
3 pm | Ponrepo Cinema | short films | free entry
I Remember, Do You Remember? (Pavel Koutecký, CZE, 1998, 59‘)
Czech Television’s series entitled I Remember, Do You Remember? examines changes in the Czech lifestyle from 1945 to 1989. The selected episode directed by Pavel Koutecký is devoted to observation of holidays during the past regime.
Oh, What a Struggle It Was! (Pavel Koutecký, CSK, 1990, 7‘)
In this playful mini-documentary, Pavel Koutecký takes a unique approach to showing Prague in the throes of the campaign leading up to the first free elections in 1990.
Oooh! We've Got It Made (Pavel Koutecký, CSK, 1990, 10‘)
This short documentary film by Pavel Koutecký captures the atmosphere of the Velvet Revolution in the streets of Prague during 29-31 December 1989, thus also during the election of Václav Havel as president.
Evolution of 4 From Revolution - Kryštof Rímský (Pavel Koutecký, Jan Šikl, CZE, 2010, 57')
The sequence of films includes a showing of the last episode of the Evolution of 4 From Revolution series, which director Pavel Koutecký began working on in 1990 as one of the last weekly newsreels shown in cinemas, entitled A Year Later. It involved portraits of four prominent figures of the Velvet Revolution created over the course of 20 years, and was completed by director Jan Šikl. The last episode of this unique long-term project is devoted to Kryštof Rímský, who was the youngest participant in the revolution and who subsequently underwent a long and complicated process of growing up – he was a revolutionary and anarchist, and at one point engaged in drug use and a search for his own path in life.
American In Prague Or Partnership For Jazz (Pavel Koutecký, CZE, 1994, 28‘)
During an official visit by President of the United States Bill Clinton, the Film and Sociology Foundation filmed selected parts of his unofficial programme. The basis of the film comprises the jazz evening spent in Prague's Reduta club where both presidents met up with our finest jazz players, and Bill Clinton, with the saxophone given to him by Vaclav Havel, joined the musicians on stage.
The Gift (Pavel Koutecký, CZE, 1996, 10‘)
In autumn of 1992, Pavel Koutecký started to shoot a documentary about Václav Havel – how it is to be a president. The material was not published, not even Václav Havel knew how the scenes looked or if there was anything shot. The director Pavel Koutecký and the Film and Sociology Foundation gave Václav Havel, for his 60th birthday, a short cut from the 4 years long shooting on a VHS cassette at the time.
Havel - Birthday (Pavel Koutecký, CZE, 1996, 7‘)
Everyone who was there was 26 years or younger, but some of them are not with us anymore.
7 pm | Ponrepo Cinema
The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (Jan Švankmajer, CSK, 1990, 10‘, in Czech with English subtitles)
A bust of Josef Stalin gives birth by Caesarean section to the history of Communist ideology and power in Czechoslovakia. That’s approximately the gist of the original abbreviation of the past and present in Jan Švankmajer’s first post-November film. An indescribable whirlwind of metaphors and associations transitions smoothly between animation and documentary, aiming at all the senses as well as the subconscious. At the same time, this supremely Surrealist work gives us a sense of how bizarre the so-called reality itself was and can be.
Graduation in November (Jiří Krejčík, CZE, 2000, 87’, in Czech)
In December 1989, Jiří Krejčík was asked by high school students in Česká Třebová to help them in a conflict with the school’s principal, who was allegedly restricting their initiatives after 17 November. The urgency of their request made an impression on the director, and he sketched out a theme for the film. Czech Television rejected it, and so he and cameraman Jiří Vojta set out for Česká Třebová equipped with only an amateur video camera. The confrontational meeting in a local lecture hall resulted in about 5 hours of technically imperfect but historically unique material. Ten years later, when Krejčík’s intent to shoot a feature film based on the same theme didn’t pan out, he edited this material into a feature documentary film, supplemented with some additional contemporary footage, which also provided a reflection on the tragic post-script to the entire affair, which was connected to Krejčík’s filming, and deepens the controversy surrounding the perception of his documentary approach.
Velvet Docs: “Happiness isn’t a state, but rather a moment”
Ponrepo Cinema, 13 – 17 November 2019
The year 1989 is a milestone in contemporary Czech history that ended one chapter of the twentieth century and opened the way to a new era for the Czech and Slovak nations. The events surrounding 17 November 1989 are broadly known, being as they are fairly recent, but closer inspection reveals them to be shrouded in fog. There is often agreement concerning the outlines of individual historical events, but specific circumstances are often lost in the flux of parallel narratives and myriad historical figures. The 30th anniversary of the events of November 1989 offers an ideal opportunity to provide a closer view through documentary filmmakers who captured the events of the Velvet Revolution in its first days as well as in the following months and even years, often in a very unique manner or from an original perspective.
Over the course of five evenings, the Velvet Films series will present documentary films that captured the revolutionary year in our country as well as abroad. Vojtěch Jasný, Pavel Koutecký, Jiří Krejčík, and Karel Vachek are a few of the authors featured in the series, whose work mirrors the introductory quote by Zygmunt Bauman: “Happiness isn’t a state, but rather a moment.”
The series will be shown from 13-17 November at the Ponrepo Cinema and will be available along with additional films on the Dafilms.com portal from 11 to 24 November 2019. The series is organized by the Institute of Documentary Film and the National Film Archive in cooperation with Dafilms.com, with kind support from Magistrát hlavního města Prahy. The partners are Film & Sociology, Slovak Film Institute, Estonian Embassy in Prague, Korzo Národní and FAMU.
Tickets cost 80 CZK per film with the exception of short films on the 17 November 2019.
the Institute of Documentary Film and the National Film Archive in cooperation with DAFilms.com
Magistrát hlavního města Prahy
Slovak Film Institute, Film & Sociology, Embassy of Estonian Republic in Prague, Korzo Národní and FAMU