The Oscar-winning director Jiri Menzel has died over the weekend following a battle with a long illness. He was 82-years-old.
Olga Menzel, Jiri’s wife, confirmed the news on Instagram and Facebook over the weekend and has paid tribute to the acclaimed filmmaker and commended his “bravery, taste, extraordinary will to live and humour”.
Menzel picked up his Academy Award for the best foreign-language film for the 1966 film Closely Watched Trains. The film was a bittersweet look at Nazi occupation and saw Menzel become a leading light of new wave Czech cinema alongside other such acclaimed directors as Milos Forman and Vera Chytilova.
Menzel also earned himself another Academy Award nomination with the 1986 dark comedy ‘My Sweet Little Village’, which was lauded for its satire and pastiche of authority figures as well as classic Czech characters.
The director may be most famed for his close relationship with novelist Bohumil Hrabal, the Czech writer of books such as the aforementioned Closely Watched Trains as well as Cutting It Short and Larks on A String. Menzel also took on around 80 roles in film and television across his career.
Menzel’s work within cinema may be warmly welcomed in every corner of the Czech Republic but his real trick was bringing the Czech stories he knew to the wider world.
RIP Jiri Menzel.