Contributions to The Art of Dissent are charitable contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation and will used be to finish the film this summer. The University of Nebraska Foundation is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law.
Across Europe, 1968 was a turning point. Young people took to the streets demanding change and made powerful and subversive art (movies, visual, literary) and music (classical, jazz, rock n' roll). This wave of dissent also swept through Czechoslovakia, then firmly in the shadow of Soviet control. Our documentary, The Art of Dissent celebrates artistic engagement before and after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. It debunks the myth that life behind the Churchillian ‘Iron Curtain’ was static and grey. Showing the vibrancy of cultural expression and discourse pre-invasion during the Prague Spring, is crucial to understanding how devastating the invasion was to personal and political life and why the regime then targeted dissidents throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Our film respects the positive heritage of dissent and the relevance of Václav Havel's ideas today. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Havel became the most recognizable opponent of the regime. As an essayist and playwright, he fused literary, rock n' roll, political, and philosophical worlds into a hybrid underground network of dissidents that eventually helped topple the regime. Havel, who was both an admirer of the USA and a critic of the communist consumer society advanced by Czechoslovakia's leaders, advocated for human rights, civil society, democracy, environmentalism, NATO, and a strong European Union.
Our film brings to life the ideas and history of this turbulent era through powerful visuals and a strong narrative. The Art of Dissent has been in development for three years and combines rare archival footage from Czech TV with interviews filmed in the Czech Republic, the United States, and England with Havel's prominent friends, colleagues, and family members. As a film in co-production with Czech TV in Prague, our project benefits from its unprecedented collaboration with Martin Bouda, Czech TV's extraordinary archivist and TV historian. The pairing of a professional historian and director, James Le Sueur, with a professional TV historian-archivist has allowed our team to uncover never shown before archival film. All of our interviews are filmed by the director-interviewer himself and our team. The powerful interplay of fresh interviews filmed over the past two years and spectacular archival film dating from 1953 gives our movie a unique, personalized, contemporary and historical texture.
The Art of Dissent is a three-part feature documentary with a total estimated time of 1 hour and 45 minutes. Our goal is to complete the production and post-production of the film by August 2019 so that it can be entered in film festivals and broadcast on Czech TV in 2020. Significantly, the 2019 intended festival release of this film commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution (November 1989) and Havel's election as Czechoslovakia's first post-communist president in December 1989. Theatre release is Summer 2020.
® Writers Guild of America
“Love, tolerance and creative freedom aren’t just for fairytales”. That’s the central message of a new documentary called The Art of Dissent, which celebrates artistic engagement in Czechoslovakia before and after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Written, directed and filmed by the American intellectual historian James D Le Sueur, the film aims to debunk the myth that life behind the Churchillian ‘Iron Curtain’ was static and grey, and to inspire viewers through the messages of Václav Havel and fellow former dissidents.