2 February 1929 |
Věra Chytilová (born 2 February 1929) is an avant-garde Czech film director and pioneer of Czech cinema. Banned by the Czechoslovak government in the 1960s, she is best known for her Czech New Wave film, Sedmikrásky (Daisies). Her 1987 film Vlčí bouda was entered into the 37th Berlin International Film Festival. Her 1989 film A Hoof Here, a Hoof There was entered into the 16th Moscow International Film Festival. Her 1992 film The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodday was entered into the 18th Moscow International Film Festival.
Early life and education
Věra Chytilová was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia on 2 February 1929. She had a strict Catholic upbringing, which would later come to influence many of the moral questions presented in her films.
While attending college, she initially studied philosophy and architecture, but abandoned these fields. She then worked as a draftsman, fashion model and as a photo re-toucher before working as a clapper girl for the Barrandov Film Studios in Prague. She then sought a recommendation from Barrandov Film Studios to study film production, but was denied. Undeterred by the rejection, she would later be accepted into the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) at the age of 28. While attending FAMU she studied underneath renowned film director Otakar Vavra, graduating in 1962.
Upon graduation from FAMU both of Věra Chytilová ‘s short films had a theoretical release throughout Czechoslovakia. In 1963 Chytilová released her first feature film entitled Something Different.
Věra Chytilová is most well known for her highly controversial film Sedmikrásky (Daisies) - (1966). Daisies is known for its un-sympathetic characters, lack of a continuous narrative and abrupt visual style. Chytilová states that she structured Daisies to “restrict [the spectator’s] feeling of involvement and lead him to an understanding of the underlying idea or philosophy”. The film was banned within Czechoslovakia upon its initial release in 1966 until 1967 due to its depictions and imagery of wasting food, but in 1966 the film won the Grand Prix at the Bergamo Film Festival in Italy. Daisies cemented Chytilová’s career both nationally and internationally.
After Věra Chytilová’s 1966 film Daisies the government made it very difficult for her to find work within Czechoslovakia, even though she was never officially classified as a ‘blacklisted’ director. Her follow up film Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise) (1969) was her last film before the Soviet Union invasion of 1968. After the Soviet Union invasion it was virtually impossible for Chytilová to find work and she resorted to directing various commercials under her husband’s name, Jaroslav Kucera.
In 1976, due to the low cinema attendance Věra Chytilová was approached by the government to begin directing films through one of the state run production companies, Short Film Studios. At the same time the United States was assembling a 'Year of Women' Film Festival and contacted Chytilová to gain permission to screen Daisies as their opening film. Chytilová informed the festival that the only non-censored prints of the film could be found in Paris and Brussels. She also informed the festival that her government would not allow her to attend the festival, nor were they allowing her to direct films. The festival then began to apply international pressure upon the Czechoslovakian government by petitioning on Chytilová’s behalf.
In accordance with this international pressure Věra Chytilová wrote a letter directly to President Gustav Husak detailing her career and her personal beliefs in socialism. Due to the success of the international pressure, and Chytilová’s personal appeal to President Husak, Chytilová began production of Hra o jablko" ("The Apple Game") (1976). The Apple Game was completed  and then was screened at the Karlovy Film Festival, and won the Silver Hugo and the Chicago International Film Festival.
After the release of The Apple Game Chytilová was allowed to continue making films, but was continually met with controversy and heavy censorship by the Czechoslovakian government. Věra Chytilová’s latest film was released in 2006, and she has taught directing at FAMU.
Věra Chytilová has described herself as a control freak and, “An overheated kettle that you can’t turn down”. Chytilová’s ‘overheated’ attitude created difficulties for her to gain work within the Soviet Union controlled film industry. She was known as being actively critical of the Soviet Union, stating that “My critique is in the context of the moral principles you preach, isn’t it? A critical reflection is necessary”. She would routinely cause havoc and ‘hysterical scenes’ in order to attempt to make films that were loyal to her vision regardless of the heavy censorship that was routinely imposed.
Věra Chytilová has embodied a unique cinematographic language and style that does not rely on any literary or verbal conventions, but rather utilizes various forms of visual manipulations to create meaning within her films. Chytilová uses observations of everyday life in accordance with allegories and surreal contexts to create a personalized film style that is greatly influenced by the French New Wave, and Italian neorealism. Chytilová actively uses a filmic style that is similar to cinéma vérité in order to allow the audience to gain an outside perspective of the film. Her use of cinéma vérité is best illustrated in her 1966 film Daises in which these techniques create a “philosophical documentary, of diverting the spectator from the involvement, destroying psychology and accentuates the humor”. Through these manipulations Chytilová has created a legacy of creating a disjunctive viewing experience for her audience forcing them to question the meaning of her films.
Věra Chytilová is cited as a militant feminist filmmaker. Josef Skvorecky states that Chytilová “In a true feminist tradition Vera combined intensive intellectual effort with a feminine feeling for beauty and form”. Daises is seen as a feminist film due to its attitude and active critique of male attitudes towards sex. However Chytilová does not see herself as a feminist filmmaker, but rather believes in individualism, stating that if a person does not believe in a particular set of conventions or rules then it is up to that individual to break them.
Věra Chytilová was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia on 2 February 1929. She refused to leave Czechoslovakia after the Soviet Union Invasion of 1968 stating that “Making films then became a mission”. She married cinematographer Jaroslav Kucera whom she met while attending FAMU. During the Soviet Union occupation when Chytilová could not find work as a director she and her husband built their family home and raised their children.
|1962||A Bagful of Flies||X|
|1965||The Automat World||X|
|1969||Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise)||X||X|
|1976||The Apple Game||X||X||X|
|1983||Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne (The Very Late Afternoon of the Faun)||X||X|
|1984||Prague: The Troubled Heart of Europe||X||X||X|
|1987||Vlčí bouda (Wolf's Hole)||X||X|
|1987||Šašek a královna (The Jester and the Queen)||X||X|
|1988||Kopytem sem, kopytem tam (Tainted Horesplay)||X||X|
|1990||Tomas Garrigue Masaryk a Liberator||X|
|1991||My Citizens of Prague Understand Me||X||X|
|1992||Dědictví aneb Kurvahošigutntag (The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodbye)||X||X|
|1998||Trap, Trap, Little Trap||X||X|
|2000||Flights and Falls||X||X||X|
|2001||Exile from Paradise||X||X||X||X|
|2005||Patrani po Ester||X|
|2006||Hezké chvilky bez záruky (Pleasant Memories)||X||X|
Awards and honors
- 1963 Something Different Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival Grand Prize (Won)
- 1967 Sedmikrásky (Daisies) Bergamo Film Festival Grand Prix (Won)
- 1970 Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise) Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or (Nominated)
- 1977 The Apple Game Chicago International Film Festival Silver Hugo (Won)
- 1980 Pretas Story International Film Festival in San Remo Grand Premio (Won)
- 1987 Vlčí bouda (The Jester and the Queen) Berlin International Film Festival Golden Berlin Bear (Nominated)
- 1989 Kopytem sem, kopytem tam (Tainted Horesplay) Moscow International Film Festival Golden St. George (Nominated)
- 1993 Dědictví aneb Kurvahošigutntag (The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodbye) Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo (Nominated)
- 1993 Dědictví aneb Kurvahošigutntag (The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodbye) Moscow International Film Festival Golden St.
- 1993 Dědictví aneb Kurvahošigutntag (The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodbye) Pilsen Film Festival Audience Award (Won)
- 1998 Trap, Trap, Little Trap Venice Film Festival Elvira Notari Prize (Won)
- 2000 International Film Festival Karlovy Vary Exceptional Artistic Contribution to the World
Cinema Award (Won)
- 2000 Flights and Falls Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival Best Czech Documentary (Nominated)
- 2001 Flights and Falls Czech Critics Awards Kristian (Won)
- 2001 Czech Lions Artistic Achievement Award (Won)
- 1971 Kamarádi 71)/TV - TV inscenation for Czechoslovak Television, also screenplay
- "Berlinale: 1987 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
- "16th Moscow International Film Festival (1989)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- "18th Moscow International Film Festival (1993)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
- "VERA CHYTILOVA BIOGRAPHY". MS. Buffalo. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Liehm, Robert Buchar ; foreword by Antonín J. (2004). Czech new wave filmmakers in interviews. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. pp. 51–73. ISBN 0-7864-1720-x Check
- Hames, Peter (2005). The Czechoslovak new wave (2. ed. ed.). London [u.a]: Wallflower. ISBN 1-904764-42-8.
- Connolly, Kate. culture.features2 "Bohemian Rhapsodist". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Clouzot, Claire (1968). "Daisies Věra Chytilová". Film Quarterly. 3 21: 35–37. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Schonberg, Josef Skvorecky ; translated by Michael (1971). All the bright young men and women : a personal history of the Czech cinema. Toronto: Peter Martin Associates Ltd. ISBN 0-88778-056-3.
- Criterion Collection Essay
- Owen, Jonathan Avant-garde to New Wave: Czechoslovak Cinema, Surrealism and the Sixties. Berghahn Books (February 15, 2011) ISBN 085745126X
- Extensive Biography (retrieved from Archive.org)
- Extensive Biography (retrieved from Archive.org)
- Additional Information and Timeline
- Criterion Collection