Film director Věra Chytilová turns 80

Věra Chytilová, photo: CTK

It seems hard to believe, but one of the leading personalities of the Czech film business, director Věra Chytilová, turned 80 on Monday. Congratulations poured in from colleagues, actors, critics and even President Vaclav Klaus. On the occasion of her jubilee Věra Chytilová was awarded a golden plaque for her lifelong contribution to Czech film.

Věra Chytilová,  photo: CTK
Věra Chytilová’s birthday party on Tuesday night attracted a gathering of notable Czech actors and filmmakers. Colleague film directors, actors whom she helped to fame in the Czech New Wave and her students from the Academy of Performing Arts where she still teaches turned up to wish her well. Creative, energetic and outspoken, Věra Chytilová was a leading representative of the Czech New Wave of the ‘60s, along with Oscar-winning directors Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel – to name just a few. Film critic Věra Zaoralová says that she has helped form Czech film history for over 60 years.

“She has always been a prominent driving force in the Czech film business. Her style was an inspiration to others and helped mould the Czech New Wave of the 1960s. You could say she was its leading representative.”

Věra Chytilová has received a number of awards for her work, including the French Order of Arts and Literature, the Czech Lion for her contribution to Czech cinematography, the Silver Medal of Merit state award and now a gold plaque from the Academy of Performing Arts, an award bestowed to the best in the business such as Czech-born director Ivan Passer, living in the United States and French script-writer Jean-Claude Carriere.

Among her most famous films are Something Different (1963) Daisies (1966) The Apple Game (1976) Prefab Story (1979) and most recently Pleasant Moments (2006).

Even at 80 though she is still going strong and has many plans for the future. Asked to name her best film she indicated it was still to come.

“I have no favourite film, in fact I can’t even remember everything I did. But one is constantly interested in new things and driven by that interest. What I’d like to do is a biographical film about the 19th century Czech writer Božena Němcová. Her life was fascinating and some of her ideas and goals –such as achieving gender equality have not been fully realized to this day.”