Véra Chytilová

Active - 1960 - 2006  |   Born - Feb 2, 1929 in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia  |   Died - Mar 12, 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic  |   Genres - Comedy, Avant-garde / Experimental, Drama, Science Fiction

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Not only is Vera Chytilova considered a key innovator and one of the most radical directors in Czechoslovakia's New Wave cinema, she is also her country's first blatantly feminist filmmaker. Originally a student of philosophy and architecture, Chytilova worked as a draughtswoman, a fashion model, and a laboratory technician before she began working in various capacities at the Barrandov Film Studio. Between 1957 and 1962, Chytilova studied at FAMU under Otakar Vavra. Both her graduation film, Strop (1961), and her feature debut, Pytel blech (1962), were initially banned by authorities for criticizing the role of women in Czech society. These films were eventually combined and released as U Stropu Je Pytel Blech. In this and her subsequent films, Chytilova used cinema verite techniques and a largely non-professional cast to make her stories more realistic. Chytilova's post-New Wave films also represent a feminist perspective; most end inconclusively in order to encourage viewers to create their own truths. Within a year of the Communist invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Chytilova was banned from making films because the authorities found her work too pessimistic. In 1975, after she wrote a letter to Czech president Husak explaining her films and the problems she faced, Chytilova was again allowed to work.

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