Igor Chaun

* 1963  

  • “The twentieth anniversary had a huge impact on society. There were many programs commemorating the Twenty years after November 1989, there was TV, there was radio, many projects were being prepared, it was an opportunity, as it was perceived by the public, to engage in retrospection. It was before the era of Babiš, and I had this opportunity, back then I was working with the Z1 news channel, and there was this idea to do profiles of the student leaders of November 1989, even those at a local, regional level. As they were making it easier, while filming all those documentaries, they would just stay in Prague, visit all those 'Mejstříks and Páneks' and they had a film. And we managed to contact dozens of wonderful people from the regions, from North Bohemia, from Brno, from Olomouc, from Ostrava. So this social probe of sorts was created, as we showed up how those people, those student leaders... They were talking about making the revolution at universities and schools, how dangerous it was, even back then, and unfortunately, there was this disenchantment in most cases, quite a strong one, after those twenty years. That it just wasn't fulfilled.”

  • “I had been present when negotiations took place, often in the company of Václav Havel, who was extremely polite, who would listen to people. I was at the balcony of the Melantrich publishing house, I would read a student proclamation to this crowd, to Wenceslas Square full of people, when those workers from ČKD came. That was just unforgettable, as until that moment, the revolution had been made by students, by intellectuals and dissidents. And all of a sudden these workers joined us, and at that moment the Reds were screwed, I couldn't say it otherwise. When they booed Štěpán off the stage: 'We are not children,' up in the ČKD. He told them from a balcony: 'There's no government that would allow its children to decide its politics and issues of power.' After that, there was this chilling silence, and then there was this sound coming from the back, as those ČKD workers started to chant: 'We are not children, we...' and then you have this close-up on Štěpán, the Secretary of the Municipal Communist Party Committee, and you could see him losing his confidence. As they didn't hear anything like this for thirty years. For thirty years they went as they were ordered: 'Long live the Communist party!' That was such a great moment, or great moments maybe. The whole society had been so tight up, so degenerated, and all of a sudden, it just woke up. Back then, the best in society had been brought up. Including faith and ideals. Ideals of morals, ideals of chance that the society could be governed in a better way. And I had the honor to ring those keys. I would say that I spoke at Letná at least twice, to almost a million people who gathered there. On an energy level – it's great to speak to a million people, it's such a blast. And just a few people in the world manage to do such a thing.”

  • “And the third event that happened while we were filming... when Václav Havel received us at Hrádeček, at this legendary destination of his, where Charter 77 petitioners had been meeting as well. He prepared for us and made us sandwiches himself and he said: 'Come on, Igor, I made potato salad and ham for all of you,' and was talking, waiting for them to set up the equipment. I told him: 'And Václav, how did it happen that you became a hero?' And he said? 'Igor, one can never become a hero by willing it, or almost never. It happens in case you have a moral principle of sorts and you are not willing to betray it. You just follow that principle. And all of a sudden, you will find that circumstances and people lead you to this situation, that you are standing in front of the people just because you believed in something and above all things you valued the truth.”

  • “And all of a sudden there was this thing, as those armored cars with those huge shields made of wire showed up and they started pushing us together. And me, as I was into martial arts, as I have said, I felt that the situation was bad indeed. I felt that the vibes started to change completely and this celebration, I still got goosebumps while thinking about it, the celebration morphed into this quite unpleasant situation, as one could sense trouble. And all of a sudden I saw that from this place that has been built up since, as there was this gap site between buildings, where this parking lot was or maybe some makeshift structures, and all of a sudden I saw those Red Berets roping down, like in some Japanese or a Hong-Kong Kung-Fu flick. And I saw right away that they were a different league, that they were nothing like those suckers wearing helmets, with all due respect. And they started to beat us. They started to beat us without remorse. There was screaming, a total mayhem, they started to push people together, and all of a sudden there was this gauntlet, where those Berets were as well, and they would beat and hurt in an extreme manner anyone who went past them.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 10.06.2021

    (audio)
    duration: 01:31:05
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha, 24.06.2021

    (audio)
    duration: 01:32:44
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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There is a perpetual struggle for freedom going on, both in the world and within us

Igor Chaun, a portrait
Igor Chaun, a portrait
photo: archiv pamětníka

Igor Chaun was born on 22 August 1963 in Prague to Eva Chaunová and František Chaun, a composer and a painter. He started acting as soon as he was attending elementary school. After failing the entrance exams at Prague’s conservatory where he wanted to study acting, he trained as a mining electrical engineer at Klement Gottwald mine in Kladno, passing a secondary school leaving exams. After that he managed to avoid both compulsory military service, getting the so-called ‘Blue Book’, and the obligation to work for a certain time at the place where he did his training. In the early 1980s, he had been working as an assistant director at the Barandov Film Studios. In 1987 he started to study screenwriting and script editing at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. During the Velvet Revolution he had become the spokesman of the student strike committee and witnessed the key event of the revolution. Ten years later, in 1999, he was the co-author of the ‘Thank you, now you may leave,’ manifesto by former student leaders, criticizing the mood in the country and demanding the leaders of two major parties to step down. After finishing the school, Igor Chaun pursued his career as a filmmaker, creating more than sixty documentaries. He has been working both for independent producers and the Czech Television. In the 1990s, he took interest in Buddhism and Eastern philosophy, he had also been inspired by his encounter with a Christian church in Brazil’s Amazonia. In 2011, he founded Goscha Association, as well as GoschaTV1 internet television he has been using to share his experience from film-making and organizing public events. At the time of the interview (2021), he was living in Prague.