Summer Film School fest in Czech Republic focuses on elders

By Radovan Holub

    Vaclav Havel, a writer and former Czech president, paid a visit to the 33rd Summer Film School (www.lfs.cz) in the Moravian town of Uherske Hradiste (July 20 to 29) to talk about the aged and how people cope with getting old. Films about aging are one of the main topics of this popular film festival, budgeted at €500,000 with 235 feature and 280 short films. The average number of attendees each year is around 110,000.

    The festival features include documentaries All and One by Karel Zalud on the Czech reality show boom, Berkat and Marsho by David Calek on the children dance group Marsho, who danced during the war in Chechnya and Reminiscence by Ivan Vojnar, who examines in the film if people are happy after the Fall of the Wall, what pleases and what disturbs them. Another important guest of the festival is the Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi.

    The Summer Film School also pre-viewed a new documentary called Citizen V.H. The film was originally started by director Pavel Koutecky who started it just in 1989. After Koutecky´s tragic death in 2006, Czech documentarist Miroslav Janek is currently in post-production with film on Havel.

    Jiri Kralik, director of the Summer Film School believes that an "educational" festival also including classic films made by old masters and films celebrating anniversaries is a good idea, because even "normal" viewers need to be educated to restrain from piles of film junk rolling out from the media.

    Vaclav Havel was at the festival for the first time, and after the projection of the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle warned that the global warming issue must not be exaggerated. Vaclav Havel also said that global warming was one of the central issues of the modern civilization. At the "going old" discussion Vaclav Havel (71) said: "I do not matter when people say about that I am getting old. I notice the symptoms of aging on myself but I do not think they are only negative. Some symptoms of aging could be envied by the young: the view from above and cognition that we are not here for eternal ages. I know people in their seventies who are still going strong and I know those who are in the same age near death."

    The British professor of linguistics David Crystal was also at the panel discussion on aging. He said: "Old age is always 15 years ahead of our actual age." He noted that he coloured his beard white for the occasion of the aging discussion.