Vera Chytilová was the most important woman director of the Czechoslovak New Wave – although she remains relatively unknown outside of Central Europe. As the first female student of the prestigious FAMU film school in Prague, she had to fight in order to do things her own way. During the creative explosion of the Czechoslovak New Wave, she made her most well known film ‘Daisies’ (1966) – a surrealist pop-art comedy, about two young women who set their minds on creating humorous destruction around them. The 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of her country stopped Chytilová’s promising career dead in its tracks, but unlike Miloś Forman (‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest’, 1975) and others, she refused to emigrate, despite the huge personal cost. After seven years of professional exile, she was allowed to return to filmmaking in the late 1970s, once again finding critical success. After the privatisation of the Czech film industry in the 1990s, she was one of the first to adapt with ‘The Inheritance’ (1992) – a scathing satire on the effect free-for-all capitalism was having on her fellow citizens. Having never compromised on her beliefs, she remained a moral authority in her country until her death in 2014, and continues to inspire those lucky enough to come across her films for the first time. Listen to the episode to hear her fascinating story.
Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter!Further reading
- Vera Chytilova Dies at 85; Made Daring Films in Czech New Wave // on nytimes.com
- "It's still revolutionary' : Věra Chytilová’s Daisies comes sixth in BBC poll of films by women // on Czech Radio.cz
- The Cinematic Gems of the Czechoslovak New Wave // on Hyperallergic.com
- Poles Conquer Czech Cinema // on Culture.pl
- The Most Powerful Films From Beyond the Iron Curtain // on Culture.pl
- Naughty Young People: Chytilová, Kučera, Krumbachova (2012) // documentary at Vimeo.com
Tereza Kučerova // set designer and visual artist, for talking to us about her mother, and her childhood memories of the dramatic events of 1968.
Anička Hanáková // for helping translate our conversation and sharing her own memories of her grandmother.
Dr. Michal Bregant // director of the National Film Archive in Prague, for sharing his experience of working with Chytilová in the 1980s.
Professor Jan Bernard // for talking about his former teaching colleague at at FAMU.
Dr. Jindřiška Bláhová // Assistant Film Studies Professor at Charles University, for sharing her knowledge of Chytilová's life and work.
Jakub Felcman // filmmaker and former student of Chytilová at FAMU, for talking to us about the Czech director as a teacher and mentor.
Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Wojciech Oleksiak & Adam Zulawski Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak