Pavel Štingl

* 1960  

  • “Meanwhile I started thinking that Prague ought to have this type of a communication centre about history… For me, history is not interesting if it is merely history, like the history taught in classes in schools, so to speak. For me, history is interesting when it draws upon some characteristics of the present and when it conversely relates to them. When we in some way discuss issues which are unfathomable to us or which even threaten us. And when this history becomes a document. And this is what Bubny should be all about. To put it simply, one day I somehow began thinking seriously that I would like to find a place in Prague where this type of a modern era memorial could be built – we might call it a ‘presential,’ a memorial of the present. A place where a great educational program could be created – new memorials are simply not museums – it is not some place where you turn on the lights in the morning and then you turn them off in the evening, and where the exhibition remains the same for twenty years. They are spaces which simply act as culture. They offer something new every weeks, and they hold several great new exhibitions every season, and this makes people visit repeatedly.”

  • “We decided that we were a students’ broadcast and that we were allowed to do anything. And during that time, somebody did an interview with general Václavík, who was the minister of defence at that time. A regular socialist general, but he was not entirely stupid. Somebody in the FAMU studio simply picked up the phone and called him and asked him: ‘General, we have a favour to ask you, you know, we would like to go to shoot a film in Romania and we need you to lend us some car.’ He replied: ‘What do you mean, a car?’ – ‘Well, we would drive it ourselves and we would return it to you without any problems.’ He said: ‘Well, I am not able to do that, firstly, all cars that I have are military cars, and they would not let you drive them over the state border’ – we have not thought about that at all, those banal things about where a military car can or cannot go – ‘and secondly, the only department who can go somewhere is the foreign department and they have their own drivers. But I will give you a car, with a driver included. When do you need it?’ Well and we told him: ‘Fine, it’s noon now, so we would like to set out in the early evening.’ And about three hours later, that 613 vehicle, with a driver, was really here. At that time, a 613 was a limousine used by those bigheads. The driver had about ten thousand dollars for petrol in his pocket, and the car’s trunk was full of various cigarettes, salamis, and sleeping bags… and we stared at it and we had those cameras in our hands and he said: ‘We need to keep records to whom we give cigarettes, and how many.’ I asked: ‘And we will be handing those cigarettes to somebody?’ He said: ‘Well, yes, because the only way to get quickly through Hungary to Romania is to bribe them all.’ This man was totally experienced. Well, and so we went with this car for socialist bigheads to film the fall of the socialist regime in Romania.”

  • “All of a sudden people started going to theatres. A number of gatherings was held in all the theatres. There were press conferences in Laterna Magika and the Radio was helping out, of course, and so did the Voice of America, but not everybody was listening to it. And in order to spread some information, we would simply edit those tapes - just imagine that basically nobody had a DVD, or a cassette player or a video player, and so we had those stupid tapes, which perhaps only one person in every city had. That person would then bring the tape player from home and display it in some shop window. Usually that one person in the town who owned that type of tape player was a person who was interested in those affairs and who wanted the things to move forward. In some places, they had television sets and the voices of famous actors, whom the people knew from the TV series, were saying to them that something was happening in Prague and telling them what was happening. And before the television caught on and before some fundamental changes were put into place, at least they were able to broadcast something publicly; for about six days it was us who kept this information before even something got into the TV to be broadcast publicly… And so we would record it, edit it, provided the recording was comprehensible, and then we would carry it somewhere and we had to work hard to convince somebody to make a hundred of copies of that tape. Somebody had to purchase the tapes in Tuzex shops or in some weird shops, or somebody would bring them from Germany, and then they would copy the tapes and students would then take it somewhere to Ostrava or to other places.”

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    Praha, 13.03.2018

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    duration: 01:21:28
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Holocaust is an inexhaustible topic

Pavel Štingl
Pavel Štingl
photo: MFF Karlovy Vary

Documentarist, director, producer and university teacher Pavel Štingl was born on June 16, 1960 in Prague. He graduated from the department of documentary filmmaking of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) and he created over a hundred of documentary films on topics like political conflicts or holocaust, which were based on personal stories. He is the founder of the film club K2 and he has traveled to Romania, Albania, Upper Karabakh, China, South Africa, Israel and many other countries when searching for material for his films. At present he is the director of Shoah Memorial Prague, o. p. s., and of the project Memorial of Silence in Bubny in Prague 7.