Documentary on Karel Schwarzenberg: It’s Never Too Late for a Father-Daughter Conversation

Karel Schwarzenberg is a man who needs no introduction. The Czech nobleman, former foreign minister, former presidential candidate, hero of the Velvet Revolution, a statesman who could leave his mark in the history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. But Karel Schwarzenberg’s story is also one of suffering, displacement, personal loss, and a complex relationship with his children. His daughter Lili Schwarzenberg has now captured this with Lukas Sturm in a very personal documentary. A film about reconciliation and dialogue between generations.

Mr. Sturm, is it true that you first had to convince Lily Schwarzenberg to appear in the movie?
Lock Storm: Co-producer Gernot Schaeffler had the idea to make a portrait of the prince and asked Laila if she didn’t want to do it. Originally we wanted two or three shooting days with one interview. But then a kind of magic arose carried by honest dialogue. It was clear to me then that it would be good to think with Laila of what she had experienced in these encounters with her father. We just went there and within six hours I told Laila everything with relentless frankness. The film acquired a quality that was not there before.

What made you interested in participating? After all, it’s a very personal story.
Purple Schwarzenberg: Originally it was the thought of somehow keeping my father for my children because he was always a distant character. In the editorial, we saw that it was more emotional when it came to both of us. When the idea for the interview came up, I thought, damn it, it’s very personal. I didn’t want to play a main character there. But then the director beat me up and said, OK, let’s give it a try.

Your film begins with a speech about Russia and Crimea from 2014, which, of course, fits perfectly with the current events. Late thought or coincidence?
Schwarzenberg: That was a happy coincidence. We had several videos of him installing him as a politician, but they didn’t work. It is not a thing in the Czech Republic, but it is not known in other countries. Through the speech, you know right away that it’s about someone who knows what’s going on.

Schwarzenberg’s history in the Czech Republic is also marked by expulsion and confiscation. This was also addressed in the movie. What reaction were you hoping for back home?
Schwarzenberg: I think it’s very clear he was 40 years away but he’s been longing for 40 and his life wasn’t until after he came back here. If I’m a Czech and I also elected him to represent the country, that’s what I want to hear.

The film also resists the classic biographical approach.
Storm: The main message is to say that it is never too late to have a conversation between father and daughter, son and mother, and father and child. One of my producer friends was in tears and said we had achieved something very special. We made a movie for all the girls in the world who have this kind of father. Because the post-war generation are men who have grown up with a very different picture of fatherhood. Hence it is also a portrait of the 20th and 21st centuries that is exceptional.

Photo from the family album
© Movie Store

How did your father react to the movie?
Schwarzenberg: His first reaction was in the movie, where we show him the material. The second was at the world premiere. He’s not a big talk guy, but I think he was very impressed.

Not everyone who is mentioned multiple times in the movie about how far away he is will react this way. Karel Schwarzenberg should also have plenty of self-reflection.
Schwarzenberg: He always said while filming, Be awkward, Lila, be awkward. I told him that confidence was the greatest gift he had ever given me. This is not an issue of course.

Storm: In fact, the movie is one declaration of love. Your father’s willingness to spend a lot of time with us and open up is the greatest gift.

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