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Vaclav Havel

The first post-communist Czech President and hero of Czechoslovakia's 1989 "Velvet Revolution" Vaclav Havel died yesterday, Sunday December 18, 2011 at the age of 75.

Before becoming his country's first democratically elected president, Havel was a dissident playwright who spent four years in communist jails. He was also one of the strongest advocates for peacefully ending the Cold War.

Havel's motto was "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred."

Vaclav Havel honoured a film by Cinema for Peace in 2008 at the Human Rights Film Festival.  “Letter to Anna” about the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya won the Audience Award that was announced by Havel who like Politkovskaya criticised the current Russian regime for being the harshest of all known forms of post-communist political systems, consisting of a “specific combination of old stereo types and a new business-mafia environment.”

In the Russian newspaper Novaya gazeta, which Anna Politkovskaya also used to work for, Havel wrote: “There can be no talk of democracy as long as the leaders of the state insult the dignity of citizens, control the judiciary, the mass media and manipulate election results.” According to Havel it would now be the most important thing to convince Russia’s citizens that the current regime, which presents itself as democratic, is in fact not democratic at all.



Citizen Havel (2008) by Miroslav Janek & Koutecky Pavel

The film material captures Havel’s work and influence both in his country and internationally. Among the truly unique events captured on film is Bill Clinton's State visit to the Czech Republic in January 1994, including the private part of the visit, when he went to the Reduta jazz club in Prague. Other events are the historic 2002 NATO Summit in Prague, Václav Havel formulating his position for a statement during the Prague meeting of the International Monetary Fund: "I sympathize with opponents of the IMF, and I'm also anti-establishment, but now I represent the country hosting the meeting"...


Letter to Anna (2008) by Eric Bergkraut

The film, co-produced by Cinema for Peace and narrated by Susan Sarandon, tells one of the many stories of journalists imperiled by their passion for giving voice to the dispossessed and ignored. In 2006, an unidentified man shot and killed internationally renowned Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya just inside of her apartment building. Prior to her assassination, she’d made a slew of enemies in Vladimir Putin’s administration because she did her job too well.