Česká centra, Czech Centres

Česká centra / Czech centres - logo


Nov 14, 2019 7:00 PM

Czech Student Uprisings - '60s & '80s

The two-part documentary film by director Olga Sommerová compares the roles of students in the protest movements of the 1960s and 1980s in communist Czechoslovakia, draws parallels between them, and sheds light on the less-researched chapters of these historical milestones.


November 14, 7PM
In the Cinema


Documentary, Czech Republic, 2016, 2x52 min
Director: Olga Sommerová

Czech Student Uprisings is a documentary exploring the role of students in Czechoslovakia during the twists and turns of history in the 1960s & 1980s.

Director: Olga Sommerová, 2016, 53min & 52min, Czech Republic.
Two parts with short break.

Throughout history, students have always been at the epicenter of changes in society. Student protest uprisings in Czechoslovakia have served as indicators of times when freedom and human rights were at stake. Director Olga Sommerová has chosen to focus on two eras of student uprisings which shaped the country’s history – the movement in the 1960s, the efforts of which were abruptly ended by the invasion by the Warsaw Pact armies and followed by the era known as “normalization”, and the activities leading up to the famous protests on November 17, 1989, which started the Velvet Revolution and lead to the fall of communism in the country. 

The first part, which focuses on activities in the 1960s, is based on interviews with some of the main student leaders of the time, including Taťána Holečková, Karel Kovanda, Jiří Müller, Zdeněk Pinc and Miroslav Tyl. It follows the key figures of the student movement from their first attempts to initiate dialogue with the Communist party, which they were always refused, to the major sit-in organized in protest against the Warsaw Pact invasion, to the tragic fate of students Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc, who protested the invasion by self-immolation. 

Focusing on the protests in the 1980s, the second part of the film offers a more positive perspective. Through interviews with key figures of the student movement such as Martin Mejstřík, Pavel Dobrovský, Šimon Pánek, Monika MacDonagh-Pajerová, Pavel Žáček, Martin Klíma, Pavel Langer and others, it explains their activities which enabled the successful fall of the Communist government and led the country into a new era of freedom – from the distribution of student magazines criticizing the country’s leadership to the legendary protests on November 17, 1989, which were brutally suppressed on Národní Street and became the impulse that kick-started the revolution. 

Olga Sommerová 

Olga Sommerová (*1949) is a Czech film director who celebrated her 70th birthday this year. In her work, she focuses on social themes and human relations, feminism, political history and various cultural phenomena. After graduating from Prague Film Academy's Department of Documentary Production in 1979, she rose to prominence in the 1980s. Since then, she has gone on to direct more than 122 films and has received more than 40 awards at both Czech and foreign film festivals. She was a lecturer at the Academy of Arts in Bánská Bystrica and a guest lecturer at the Film Academy in Písek. Olga Sommerová is regarded as one of the most prominent faces of the post-Velvet Revolution Czech documentary film scene.

Foto kredit: Česká televize


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Nov 14, 2019 7:00 PM


Czech Centre

Remind me
This event has already started.