Jan Nemec

Active - 1960 - 2009  |   Born - Jul 2, 1936   |   Died - Mar 18, 2016   |   Genres - Drama, Culture & Society, Comedy, Adventure, War

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Czech filmmaker Jan Nemec, one of the key figures in his country's new wave movement, was best known for his daring, intense journeys into the psychological processes of his characters that also served to give provocative insight into political oppression and family life. He was also fascinated with the elusive nature of memory. Nèmec made an auspicious professional debut by winning a prize at a student film festival in Amsterdam with his short film A Loaf of Bread (1969), a film he made around the time he was studying at the Prague film school. While serving in the military in 1963, Nèmec made the short documentary The Memory of Our Day. The following year he made his feature-film debut with Diamonds of the Night, a fascinating exploration of the experiences of two Jewish escapees from a train bound for a concentration camp. They end up in a small town where they are caught stealing bread and are sentenced to be executed. Fortunately, the villagers discover that none of them have the stomach for such violence. In the West, one of Nèmec's best known films was Report on the Party and the Guests (1966) a controversial, unflinching satire of communist ideals versus brutal reality. Nèmec continued to be a successful filmmaker through the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, an event he chronicled that year in his film Oratorio for Prague. He did not make another film until 1974 after he had been allowed to emigrate to France. Nèmec also worked as an actor, screenwriter and a cinematographer. He continued to be a presence in the Czech film scene until his death, in 2016, at age 79.

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