Lifetime Achievement Award Winner – Jiri Menzel
With his debut feature film Closely Watched Trains (1966), Czechoslovakian filmmaker Jirí Menzel became an important member in Czech New Wave cinema and won Academy Award for Best Foreign film. Menzel started out as an assistant director and occasional actor for Vera Chytilova following his graduation from the Prague film school F.A.M.U. In 1965, Menzel directed an episode for the feature anthology Pearls of the Deep, a tribute to distinguished Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. Following the success of Closely Watched Trains, Menzel directed Capricious Summer(1968) and turned in a great performance as a tightrope. In 1969, he made Larks on a String, considered by many to be his best work. Unfortunately, its critical stance on Communism led to its being banned from release until 1990 when it played internationally. As the film was banned, Menzel was barred from filmmaking until 1974 when he publicly announced that he supported Communism. From the late ’70s through the mid-’80s, Menzel made non-political, nostalgic comedies. He had international success in 1986 with the delightful My Sweet Little Village. In the late ’80s, Menzel again returned to political activism and continued to make films though the mid-’90s. His latest film is the 2013 Czech comedy The Don Juans.