They were Czechoslovak heroes. Twice Ice Hockey World Champions, just about to leave for London to defend their title. The public adored them. The year was 1950 and they never reached London. They were all arrested and for the next seven weeks they were subjected to torture, abuse, unbelievable pressure and extortion. At the end they were accused of spying, high treason and of subverting the socialist system and mostly sent to uranium mines. According to Gustav Bubník, one of the two who survived: “…they were sacrificed for their comfort and for the guilt feeling - swept under the table”.
This is the story of an unusual man. The story of an artist, a politician, a philosopher and a poet. At the same time it is the story of a man trying to find his way in life, trying to find his identity and meaning of life (but not in the Monty Python’s way). Ivan Hartl officially does not exist. He does not have any travel documents or any other papers to prove his identity. To see him now, looking like an Indian Guru, one could hardly believe this man was one of the 1960th leading figures of the European student movement or a leading Czech dissident later on. Now, easily recognisable around London’s East and West End, he is more involved with the homeless and at the same time with the creation of his special brand of an underground culture than with a classical political movement of any kind.
Across the Borders
The story of a man whose life touched the past and the present of several European countries. An extraordinary artist, a photographer who recorded the early days of the Charter 77 and who in 1981, after he was granted a political asylum in Britain, became a leading theatre photographer for all major British theatre houses and their directors and stars. The theatre director Terry Hands called him “the Cartier-Bresson of theatre photographers”. He was a true work alcoholic and, as such, it was only fitting - he found his death after the day of hard work on another famous London stage – An Old Vic. Some say he was always looking for danger. He was filming Czech dissidents being followed by the secret service. He was photographing the prisons and its dissident inhabitants and so on. On British stage he was famous for his energy and constant movement on rehearsals and during the performances.
A documentary film about some aspects of the democratic process in the Czech Republic, based on the personal experience of a former dissident Vladimír Hučín , who after the Velvet Revolution in 1989 became an officer in the ‘new’ secret service (BIS), only to be again persecuted by the “velvet” justice of a new regime. Fifteen years after the fall of the communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia, it is now the Czech Republic which is regarded on the international scene as a “fully grown democracy”. People do not realise the surviving and at the same time increasing power of the repressive elements of the former communist system. Elements that already succeeded in infiltrating into so called democratic structures. We can see them in the state as well as in the local governments, in the police, in various legal organisations and in the secret services. Anybody who tried to point out this danger is immediately banished from the ‘democratic society’, persecuted by the police and departments of justice and his or her livelihood and social standing in society are destroyed. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 Vladimír Hučín had been celebrated as a hero of the anti-communist dissent. Now, fifteen years later, the ´velvet justice‘ put him again on trial for his activities during the totalitarian regime and from around five years ago he is being persecuted and victimised for his activities in the “new secret service”, where he had been in charge of the defence of the democratic system of the government and of the fight against an ultra-left extremism. On the case of Vladimír Hučín we would like to document the current state of “the post-communist” society in the Czech Republic, where the former communists and “apparatchiks” became members of other parliamentary parties and gained important positions in all leading state organisations, including those of the local governments .
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