René (Czech Republic, 2008)

directed by Helena Třeštíková, documentary, 83 min, eng subtitles

web (CZ)

 “Why has my shitty life turned out like this? No-one knows. Not even God. God’s on holiday and he’s reading porn” – an excerpt from Diary of the Forgotten, the journal kept by die-hard criminal and imaginative writer René Plášil, the main protagonist in another of Helena Třeštíková’s long-term documentaries. With raw authenticity, the director records the luckless fate of René over a period of twenty years as he yo-yos between prison and freedom. The life of René, who successfully stylises himself in the role of a desperado, unfolds against a backdrop of important political events occurring in the CR and beyond its borders. The Velvet Revolution, the presidential election, 9/11 and the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU. All this is “digested” by René mostly from the confines of various prisons. The film also traces the director’s intriguing relationship with her “subject of study”, who sometimes feels like a prostitute selling his life story for filthy lucre, but for whom the visits from the film crew or his countless letters to Helena Třeštíková are often his only solace. One could say that René is a new classic of documentary cinema, one of those that leave marks, which are talked about again and again.


European Film Academy Awards 2008 (Prix Arte - the best European documentary film)
International Film Festival 2008 (Audience Award)
DOK Leipzig 2008 (Golden Dove for the Best International Documentary, MDR Film Award for en Excellent Eastern European Documentary)
IFF Filmmaker Doc 13 Milan 2008 (Best Filmmaker Award)