Unique new documentary about Vaclav Havel to premiere in January
Over the course of a decade, the film director Pavel Koutecky shot 45 hours' of unique behind-the-scenes footage of former president Vaclav Havel, at work and at play, from picking his way through Machiavellian post-election negotiations to giving restaurant tips to the Rolling Stones. Pavel Koutecky died in a tragic accident last year, but the film - called Citizen Havel - is now in post-production, and will premiere in the Czech Republic in January. On Monday there was a sneak preview of the working version at Prague's MAT cinema, where we spoke to co-producer Pavel Strnad. We began by asking him about the film's name.
"Funnily enough we were just talking about this. Perhaps the film should have been called 'President Havel'; the film starts back in 1992 when Vaclav Havel [who had just stepped down as president of Czechoslovakia] was deciding whether he should run for president [of the newly independent Czech Republic] and finishes in January 2003 when he was leaving office."
"Yes, it was a very important time, and I think you can see in the film how difficult it was, because all the democratic institutions had to be established, the political culture in the Czech Republic had to be established, and Vaclav Havel played a crucial role in this."
"Well, we ended up with a very funny film I have to say, it's almost a comedy. It shows Vaclav Havel as a person, and he's got a very comic personality, he's really - like his work - full of absurd humour. We really tried to focus on him, rather than on political events, because you wouldn't be able to watch political events for two hours, but you can watch Vaclav Havel as a person for two hours.
"When I talked to people at those test screenings, I was really surprised how many of them said they liked the film because it shows Vaclav Havel as a person, as a human being, rather than a politician. That I think is a very special feature of this film, because the film shows him in situations that everybody has to deal with in their lives. So it's very human, and very funny, and - I believe - very interesting for the audience."