In 2017, 79-year old Jaroslav will leave his land-locked home country and set sail on a trip around the world in a boat he’s been crafting by hand for over forty years. But his voyage through stormy seas began long before that, when he was only ten years old and Communism took hold of Czechoslovakia.
Velvet Citizen follows Jaroslav as he fought to keep his dream alive under harsh Communist government rule, which forbade travel access to the oceans. Sailing was deeply ingrained in Jaroslav’s family history, and as a child he would build kayaks and visit rivers. This planted the seed for a dream soon handicapped by monumental forces. Under the rule of Communism, citizens were allowed to sail only a few weeks each year, and had to record the exact times of day, weather, location and winds of their trips. The Communists collected these captain logbooks at the end of the trips, checking minute details for discrepancies, to ensure that people weren’t trying to flee the country. Despite being assigned to work as an electrician, Jaroslav managed to get his captain’s license over years of racking up these difficult miles.
Concurrently to the story of overcoming Communism to pursue a life long passion, Jaroslav and his wife elaborate on living above a bakery whose rental income helps fund this sailing trip. Jaroslav aims to teach his grandchildren the way the grain they grow makes its way into a loaf of bread. He wants to instill in them his belief that the process is the journey.