Citizen Havel (2008): Docu about Former Czech President Vclav Havel

One of this year’s most original Czech films is the feature documentary Citizen Havel, an intimate portrait of the former Czech president that was 15 years in the making.

Czech filmmaker Pavel Kouteck started his project on the life of Vclav Havel in 1992 as Czechoslovakia was preparing to split into two republics and Havel was stepping down as its president and pondering whether to run as president of the Czech Republic. The film ends more than a decade later, in 2003, when Havel is leaving office.

“Citizen Havel” features a mix of official and behind-the-scenes footage, focusing on both Havel’s political and private life. Kouteck, who made some 50 films during his career, died in a tragic accident in 2006 and the film was completed by another leading Czech documentary filmmaker, Miroslav Janek.

“Miroslav Janek was the right person as he had enough patience to dig through the existing 45 hours of film material,” the film’s producer Jarmila Polkov said. “I knew that he was able to introduce his own angle, but would not rip Koutecks spirit apart.”

Polkov works for the production company Film & Sociology, a subsidiary of the Film & Sociology Association, a film fund that has produced about 150 documentaries since 1992.

“Citizen Havel” was co-produced by production companies Negativ Studio KF and FTV; by Michael Wolkowitz, with the partnership of private Czech TV channel Nova; and with the financial support of the State Fund for the Support and Development of Czech Cinematography, the DrAK foundation and Dr. Dadja Altenburg-Kohl, who owns the DrAK foundation.

The budget was 20 million crowns (700,000). The film will be released by Aerofilms and TV Nova, which will show it as a series in November 2008.