Art Film Fest to present exclusive Slovak premiere of Václav Havel’s “Leaving”

This year’s Art Film Fest will present the exclusive Slovak premiere of “Leaving” (Odcházení), directorial debut of the last president of Czechoslovakia and first of the Czech Republic: Václav Havel.

Based on the legendary politician’s world-famous play, the film will be screened in cooperation with distributor Garfield Film. Havel himself, his wife Dagmar Havlová Veškrnová and several of the film’s performers have been invited to the festival-closing gala premiere, to be held on June 25th in Trenčianske Teplice.

Marking the former president’s very first stint in the director’s chair, “Leaving” is a tragicomic chamber drama about a high-ranking politician unsuccessfully dealing with the loss of his position. Though it focuses on the collapse of a man’s life, the film is funny and satirical. The play it is based on was Havel’s first after 1989’s Velvet Revolution, parodying the political realm where he has spent a good part of his life.

Though he has waited until now to delve into the world of cinema, it has always been close by. His uncle Miloš Havel was instrumental in the development of the Czechoslovakian industry, and as a child, Havel himself yearned to be a film director, only to have his plans thwarted by the circumstances and regime he grew up in. It wasn’t until the summer 2010 shooting of “Leaving” that he was finally able to fulfil his dreams.
The film will be screened on June 24th at the renowned Moscow International Film Festival, and it will open at Slovak cinemas on June 30th. 

 “Naturally I’m interested in people’s response to the film. If it is favorably received, I will rejoice in that my public career is not at an end and did not culminate by blowing up,” says Havel.

The film’s star-studded cast features a range of Czech cinema’s most distinguished performers, led by Josef Abrhám and the director’s wife, Dagmar Havlová Veškrnová, in a role tailor-made for her. Other highlight performances include those of Jiří Bartoška, Jaroslav Dušek, Eva Holubová, Oldřich Kaiser, Jiří Lábus, Jiří Macháček and Tatiana Vilhelmová, as well as Slovak actors such as Marián Labuda.

“I appreciate that these actors were willing to take smaller, sometimes truly microscopic roles out of friendship, often rejecting other lead roles in the process," said director Václav Havel.
The picture was filmed from July 1st to August 21st, 2010 in Česká Skalice’s historically preserved Čerych Villa, and its final scenes in Ploskovice Palace.

Written in 2007, Havel’s play was premiered at Prague’s Archa Theatre, starring Jan Tříska and Zuzana Stivínová. The production of Havel’s latest play was the Czech Republic’s most significant cultural event of the past several years. “Leaving” was also staged by the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, where rehearsals were personally attended by the author, and it went on to international stages in England, the USA and Russia.

Václav Havel

A writer, a dramatist, one of the original spokesmen of the Czecho-Slovak Charter 77 movement, a leader of the November 1989 Velvet Revolution and Czechoslovakia’s last president and the first president of the modern Czech Republic, Václav Havel is undoubtedly the Czechs’ most prominent cultural and political figure of the last half-century.

As a playwright, his works include “The Garden Party” (Zahradní slavnost, 1963), “The Memorandum” (Vyrozumění, 1965), “The Increased Difficulty of Concentration” (Ztížená možnost soustředění, 1968), “Conspirators” (Spiklenci, 1971), “The Beggar’s Opera” (Žebrácká opera, 1972), “Audience” (1975), “Unveiling” (Vernisáž, 1975), “Mountain Hotel” (Horský hotel, 1976), “Protest” (1978), “Mistake” (Chyba, 1983), “Largo desolato” (1984), “Temptation” (Pokoušení, 1985), “Redevelopment” (Asanace, 1987) and “Tomorrow” (Zítra to spustíme, 1988).

He wrote the first version of "Leaving" as far back as the summer of 1989 before the Velvet Revolution, when he was given the responsibility of a long-term position as head of state: president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1993 and of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003.

It wasn’t until 2006 that he picked up where he’d left off with “Leaving”, taking another year to complete the play. It was the first time in forty years that he was able to attend the preparations and premiere of his own play. The film adaptation of “Leaving” is his directorial debut.

Since the end of his career as a high-ranking politician, Václav Havel has devoted himself to his literary work and defending human rights. As the co-founder of the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97, he supports numerous humanitarian, health and education projects.

For his contribution to literature and his life-long efforts in the name of human rights, Havel has received a great deal of national decorations, international awards and honorary degrees.
The 19th Art Film Fest International Film Festival 2011 is made possible by the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund.

Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., FORZA, a.s. 

Co-organizers: The Town of Trenčianske Teplice, Trenčianske Teplice Spas

General Sponsors: Omnia Holding SE, AquaCity Poprad

Main Sponsors: Tatra banka, Slovnaft, VUJE, OHL ŽS

Official Transport Provider: Lancia

Logistics Sponsor: DHL

Free student Cinepasses are provided by: Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa (First Housing-Construction Savings Bank)

Sponsors: TIPOS, Ernst & Young, AVI studio, Penzión Baske, Cinemax

Official Suppliers: Pilsner Urquell, HUBERT J.E.

Main Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, televízia JOJ, Rádio FM, Pravda,
Media Sponsors: Central Europe Television, Kino CS, Muzika CS, Doku CS, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, .týždeň, Eurotelevízia, Pardon, OK!, Kinečko, Kam do mesta, Focus, Boomerang Media, SITA,, BlueSky, Televízia Trenčianske Teplice, euroAWK

Sponsors: The City of Trenčín, the Trenčín Self-governing Region, the Embassy of Israel in Slovakia, the European Commission Representation in Slovakia, the Slovak Film Institute, Omnia, RONA, Celtima SK