Radio Free Europe – An Inspiration for the story of ‘Pavlina’

‘Pavlina’ is a short screenplay shortlisted for the portmanteau style 50 Kisses Film. Set in the 1980s in Cold War Czechoslovakia, it follows the story of a curious young woman who puts herself at risk as she gains information about the West from an illegal radio station. This radio station, inspired by Radio Free Europe (in Czech Svobodná Evropa), played a critical role during the Cold War in Eastern Europe.

To give a bit of background, Wikipedia states that Radio Free Europe (RFE) was developed out of a belief that the Cold War would eventually be fought by political rather than military means. The station broadcasted from Munich and offered Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries uncensored information. Otherwise, this type of information was usually distorted or suppressed by the communist authorities.

Video clip: The late Czech president Václav Havel’s thoughts on the significance of RFE, recorded on 21st September 2004

The history of Radio Free Europe is quite fascinating. The people were influenced a great deal by the broadcasts, for example, there was a program that warned people about the presence of communist spies and collaborators who were living in their midst. They would also air messages from relatives who had made it safely abroad after escaping Czechoslovakia. Radio Free Europe certainly was the bane of the communist authorities who remained persistent in their attempt to jam its waves.

 Video clip: The Radio Free Europe Story describes the type of broadcasts made, as discussed above, giving us an insight as to why the communist authorities saw RFE as a threat.

If there was one sound guaranteed to infuriate Czechoslovakia’s communist leaders during the 1970s and 80s it was the call-sign of the US-funded Radio Free Europe, broadcasting from Munich to the countries of the Eastern Bloc.

Quote source

Going back to the story of Pavlina, when creating Pavlina’s character I envisaged how a young woman behind the Iron Curtain, intrigued, would be unable to resist listening to the broadcasts of this illegal radio station. Would she have heard about ‘Valentines Day’?  A Western celebration that Eastern bloc citizens were not exposed to or even knew of its existence, perhaps only known to those who listened to Radio Free Europe. I let my imagination take hold as I typed FADE IN:

The screenplay: Pavlina (available)

Genre: Cold War drama

Logline: Behind the Iron Curtain, a neglected wife who tries to share the West’s ’celebration of Love’ with her disgruntled husband faces a dark truth when the secret police pay them a visit

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