20 years between prison and freedom
This raw authentic documentary film tells the story of René whose life was being captured on camera since he was seventeen. The camera followed his hopeless journey between prison and brief periods outside the prison walls. In 2008 the film comes to an end, leaving the now 37-year-old René as a sick man who still gets in trouble with the law and who is also the author of two published books. Director Helena Třeštíková records René’s personal developments against the backdrop of significant political transformations taking place in Central Europe.
René’s story begins in prison under socialist posters, continues through the so-called Velvet Revolution of 1989 and gets a seemingly happy conclusion with the amnesty decree issued by President Václav Havel. Yet René soon heads back to prison and also celebrated our EU accession from behind the bars. During the years spent in prison – sentenced mainly for theft – René had his whole body covered in tattoos, escaped from prison only to be soon recaptured, burgled the director’s home, was involved in a couple of romantic relationships, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as well as a high IQ. René displays his outlook on life by flashing his “Fuck of People” tattoo on his neck.
Czech Television, with the support of State Cinematography Fund (CZ)
24. 7. 2008
35 MM, SD FILES
Cast & Crew
Director and Writer
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
MARTIN KUBALA, PETR PEŠEK, STANO SLUŠNÝ, VÁCLAV SMOLÍK, MAREK DVOŘÁK, ONDŘEJ BELICA, MIROSLAV SOUČEK, VLASTIMIL HAMERNÍK
DARJA MACÁKOVÁ, MICHAEL TŘEŠTÍK, JAN GOGOLA, ML., MARTIN ŠTOLL
VLADIMÍR NAHODIL, PAVEL SÁDEK, JAN VALOUCH, VÁCLAV HEJDUK, MIROSLAV ŠIMČÍK, ŠTĚPÁN MAMULA, DANIEL NĚMEC, ZBYNĚK MIKULÍK, PETR PROVAZNÍK, JAN VALOUCH
About the film
The film is composed of four parts. The first parts are extracts of a film that the director initially worked on for three years for the Foundation of Film and Sociology. Afterwards, in the second phase, she kept shooting René’s story on her own for several years. In the third phase she worked together with Czech TV as well as the Czech production company Negativ. Archive materials about political affairs are the fourth component of the film. Her camera followed René to his prison cell, to his mother’s apartment, to the prison hospital and to his work in prison. It watched him in cellars and in the railway stations. Třeštíková asks her questions off-camera and lets René talk about his current feelings, dreams and plans. She also makes him read from his numerous letters. All shots are strictly authentic with no stage effects, acting or commentary.
Since the beginning of René’s story, the Czech Republic has gone through the “Velvet Revolution”, Václav Havel, a former prisoner, dissident and writer, was elected president, the common state of Czechoslovakia came to its end; and the Czech Republic started a process of political change in order to become a standard European democracy, which included joining the European Union. All of those events are included in the story in the form of TV news extracts that René watches in prison and in the form of title cards.