Otakar Vávra in 1980
|Died||15 September 2011 100) (aged|
|Occupation||Film director and script writer|
Otakar Vávra (28 February 1911 – 15 September 2011) was a Czech film director, screenwriter and pedagogue. He was born in Hradec Králové, Austria-Hungary, now part of the Czech Republic.
Vávra attended universities in Brno and Prague, where he studied architecture. During 1929–30, while still a student, he participated in the making of a handful of documentaries and wrote movie scripts. In 1931, he produced the experimental film Světlo proniká tmou. The first movie he directed was 1937's Panenství .
His 1938 film The Merry Wives was praised in Variety for "first-rate direction, a salty yarn and elaborate production effort", even though it had undergone certain cuts because it was considered too "ribald" by American censors.
Vávra was a member of the Communist Party from 1945 to 1989. After the Communists seized power in 1948, Vávra adapted quickly to the new political climate and produced films praising the current regime and supporting the new, official interpretation of the past.
In the 1950s he filmed the "Hussite Trilogy", one of his most famous works, consisting of Jan Hus (1954), Jan Žižka (1955) and Against All (1957).
In the 1960s, Vávra made his most celebrated films Zlatá reneta (1965), Romance for Bugle (1966) and Witchhammer (1969). Romance for Bugle was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival where it won the Special Silver Prize.
In the 1970s Vávra produced his "War Trilogy" consisting of semi-documentary movies Dny zrady, Sokolovo and Osvobození Prahy, all being heavily influenced by communist propaganda. The film Dny zrady ( Days of Betrayal , 1973) was entered into the 8th Moscow International Film Festival where it won a Diploma.In 1979 he was a member of the jury at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival.
Since the 1950s Vávra taught film direction at Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Among his students were several directors of the "Czech New Wave".
In 2001, he was awarded the Czech Lion for his lifelong contribution to the Czech cinema.In 2004, he received the presidential Medal of Merit (Medaile za zásluhy).
Vávra's critics point to his willingness to accommodate the Communist regime.In a 2003 article ("Playing the Villain", The Globe and Mail, May 15, 2003) about his documentary film, Hitler and I that he shot in Prague, David Cherniack described the following encounter with his former FAMU Head Professor:
Having lived in a police state for four years and seen the difficult choices that people make between ends and means, I decide to interview my head professor from the academy, National Artist Otakar Vavra. Now 92 but still very sharp, Vavra made 50 feature films under every regime from the thirties on, including the seven years of the Nazi occupation. Though he maintains he was serving his films and the public by doing the minimum necessary to co-operate, others are of the view that he was serving himself. The films of his that I've seen tend to be rather didactic history lessons. I meet him at the Theatre Restaurant where he lunches every day and still conducts business. Behind the bluster and razor-sharp intellect that is still very much present, I sense a sad and isolated old man who feels he should be enjoying the adulation of his country and not being as ignored as he is. My own Fritz Gerlich (a Catholic newspaper editor executed in Dachau during the Night of the Long Knives) was our teaching assistant, the New Wave director Evald Schorm. Unlike Vavra, he refused to sign a paper agreeing with the 1968 occupation by the Warsaw Pact. Schorm went to his own Dachau. He was forced to leave the school and filmmaking and go direct operas in Brno. One of the Czech actors on the set tells me he died an embittered man shortly before the Velvet Revolution. Reality is always more complex than the stories we tell about it.
Jan Žižka z Trocnova a Kalicha was a Czech general, a contemporary and follower of Jan Hus, Hussite military leader, and later also a Radical Hussite who led the Taborites. Žižka is held to be one of the most renowned military leaders by many historians and today he is widely considered a Czech national hero.
Czech cinema is the name for cinematography of Czech Republic, as well as the Czech cinematography while it was a part of other countries.
Václav Kaplický was a Czech writer, journalist and epic poet. He is most known as an author of historical fiction. Kaplický studied at Gymnasium in Tábor, finishing in 1914. In 1915 he was sent to the front in Galicia where he was taken captive (1916). Later he joined the Czechoslovak Legion. For his political opinions he was imprisoned by the legion and labeled as a traitor. After returning to Czechoslovakia in 1921 he worked in civil service. During the period 1922–1950, Kaplický worked in several publishing houses associated with the Czechoslovak Socialist Party. From 1950 he dedicated his time solely to writing.
Jan Drda was a Czech journalist, politician, playwright, screenwriter and author of modern fairytales. He was the Czech State Prize Laureate in 1949 and 1953, and was a nominated again for the same prize in 1965.
Otakar Jaroš was a Czech officer in the Czechoslovak forces in the Soviet Union. He was killed in the Battle of Sokolovo and became the first member of a foreign army decorated with the highest Soviet decoration, Hero of the Soviet Union.
The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague or FAMU is a film school in Prague, Czech Republic, founded in 1946 as one of three branches of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. It is the fifth oldest film school in the world. The teaching language on most courses at FAMU is Czech, but FAMU also runs certain courses in English. The school has repeatedly been included on lists of the best film schools in the world by The Hollywood Reporter.
Gustav Nezval by civil name Augustin Nezval, was a Czech stage and film actor.
Evald Schorm was a Czech film and stage director, screenwriter and actor. He directed 26 films between 1959 and 1988. Schorm was a notable exponent of the Czech Film New Wave.
Oldřich Nový was a Czech film and theatre actor, director, composer, dramaturg and singer. He is considered one of the greatest actors of the Czech cinema in the first half of the 20th century.
The Battle of Sokolovo took place on 8 and 9 March 1943, near the town of Sokolovo near Kharkiv in Ukraine when the ongoing attack of the Wehrmacht was delayed by joint Soviet and Czechoslovak forces. It was the first time that a foreign military unit, the First Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion, fought together with the Red Army. Under the command of Ludvík Svoboda, later President of Czechoslovakia, the Czechoslovak soldiers delayed the advance of Germans to the Mzha river. On 13 March the position was abandoned as untenable due to the complete German encirclement of Kharkov.
Witchhammer is a 1970 Czechoslovak drama film directed by Otakar Vávra and starring Elo Romančík. Based on the novel Kladivo na čarodějnice by Václav Kaplický, Witchhammer relates the story of the Northern Moravia witch trials of the 1670s, focusing on the priest Kryštof Lautner, played by Romančík, who falls victim to the witchhunt after opposing the trials. The film contains possible allegory about Communist show trials in Czechoslovakia.
Courage for Every Day is a 1964 Czechoslovak drama film directed by Evald Schorm.
Days of Betrayal is a 1973 Czechoslovakian drama film directed by Otakar Vávra. The film was entered into the 8th Moscow International Film Festival where it won a Diploma. It was also selected as the Czechoslovakian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 46th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
Romance pro křídlovku is a lyrical epic poem written in 1961 by the Czech poet František Hrubín. It tells the story of a young boy who falls in love with a girl from a carousel. The book has been published internationally in Russian and German translations, as well as being adapted for film and theatre. It is considered one of the most famous poems of the Czech literature.
The 5th Moscow International Film Festival was held from 5 to 20 July 1967. The Grand Prix was shared between the Soviet film The Journalist, directed by Sergei Gerasimov and the Hungarian film Father, directed by István Szabó. The festival line-up included the film Spellbound Wood, directed by Norodom Sihanouk, the former King of Cambodia.
Romance for Bugle is a 1967 Czechoslovakian drama film directed by Otakar Vávra. It was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival where it won the Special Silver Prize. It is based on the lyrical epic poem of the same name written in 1961 by František Hrubín.
Jiří Srnka was a Czech composer.
Marie Majerová was a Czech writer.
Sokolovo is a 1974 Soviet–Czechoslovak war film made by Otakar Vávra depicting the Battle of Sokolovo in 1943. The film was published in two parts and was meant as the middle part of Vávra's "war trilogy" consisting of movies Dny zrady, Sokolovo and Osvobození Prahy.
Hussite Revolutionary Trilogy is a trilogy of films by Otakar Vávra. It consists of Jan Hus, Jan Žižka and Against All. It was the most expensive Czechoslovak cinematic project. Budget was 33 million Czechoslovak crowns. Vávra stated that he was inspired by the works of František Palacký. He was also inspired by Alois Jirásek's works about Hussite Wars and their interpretation as a class struggle by Communist Minister of Culture Zdeněk Nejedlý.
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