A Stage Documentary: Jan Patočka and Charter 77

director: Miroslav Bambušek

In this day and age the importance of teaching modern history is being increasingly emphasized, which is one of the reasons why Studio Hrdinů decided to realize and stage a documentary piece based on the life and writings of Jan Patočka, Kacířské eseje [Heretical Essays].

The subject of the stage documentary is the role of the greatest Czech philosopher of the modern times, Jan Patočka, the student of E. Husserl and M. Heidegger, in the creation of the Charter 77. Throughout his entire life, Patočka was preoccupied with the phenomenon of community and service done for it by an individual. His entry into the public sphere after the Charter 77 was founded only confirmed this journey of his.

The stage documentary presents archival materials of the State Security, which pursued Patočka’s “subversive” activities in connection with the Charter, and documents that demonstrate the degree of repression Patočka, as the first spokesperson for the Charter 77, and his colleagues were subjected to by the state apparatus. The documentary addresses the issue of defamation of the Charter’s signatories in media and the issue of media manipulation in the censored press of the period. The project also examines the reports of the State Security interrogation of Patočka, the circumstances of his dying after his last 10-hour long interrogation, and the response to his death in local and well as foreign press. The documentation of the philosopher’s funeral, which the State Security attempted to disrupt by any means, is included as well.

The stage documentary incorporates a number of photographs and other archival material.

The stage documentary includes a discussion panel with the participation of the philosopher Jan Sokol (Patočka’s son-in-law), Ivan Chvatík (the head of the Jan Patočka Archive) or the historian Petr Blažek. The discussion will be moderated by Petr Fischer.

The project is suitable for 15+ students; it can complement history, civics and Czech language classes; it is also targeted on the students of selective (mainly socio-scientific and literary) seminars.