Vojta Lavička: Ups and Downs
CAM Jiří Chod
ED Jakub Hejna
PROD CO Production Třeštíková / Czech television
With a sweeping Romany music soundtrack that grabs your heartstrings and never loosens its grip, Helena Trestíková’s intimate documentary about the troubled life of musician, activist and reporter Vojta Lavička unfolds over 16 years and does double duty as a thorough examination of the marginalized Roma living in the Czech Republic today.
Despite enviable accomplishments—he was a pioneer of Romany TV and radio broadcasting, an activist with an NGO on behalf of the Roma and, most famously, a master violinist whose popular Romany hip-hop group Gipsy.cz played Glastonbury in 2007—Lavička is still trying to get things right. "Whenever I have the opportunity to be contented and happy I screw it up somehow," he wryly notes. Trestíková details the, yes, ups and downs in Lavička’s life—for every triumph, a disappointment, for every slump of resignation, a moment of hope—over the last decade-and-a-half and the straightforwardness of her title is mirrored in the way she structures her film. Through it all, the increasingly desperate plight of the Czech Roma, marginalized and scorned by the Czech majority, hovers in the background, colouring Lavička’s every thought and action. And when it gets to be too much? The balm of music, enjoyed most when played with his son…