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Věra Chytilová, film director, professor at FAMU and a great woman passed away today

Věra Chytilová, film director, professor at FAMU and a great woman passed away today

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.[7]

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”.[5] 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.[5][6] 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.[6] 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.[6]

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.[6] 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.[6]

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.[5] 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).[6] The Apple Game was completed [7] and then was screened at the Karlovy Film Festival, and won the Silver Hugo and the Chicago International Film Festival.[5][6]

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.[6]