One of the best known representatives of the ‘New Wave Czech Cinema’, Jiri Menzel will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 44th edition of IFFI. Jiri Menzel has made his mark on the cultural history of his native Czech Republic as a film auteur, theatre director and actor. His films are cherished for their lyrical realism and stylistic boldness. The genteel humanism and comic tone of his work has earned him love and acclaim of film aficionados across the globe.
Born in Prague in 1938, Jiri Menzel majored in film direction from the Prague Film School (FAMU) in 1962. This was the time when the representatives of `New Wave’ in Czech Cinema made their presence felt in the international arena. His career kicked off with a stint as Assistant Director. He worked mainly at the Baranov Film Studios. As a stage director, he was mostly involved with the Drama Club in Prague but he was eagerly invited by numerous European theatres in Zurich, Paris, Berlin and many other places.
Menzel is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a founding member of the European Film Academy. ln 1987, he was a member of the July at the 37th Berlin International Film Festival. He served twice as jury member at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1989 and 1995.
His first movie, “Closely Observed Trains”, was made when he was just 28 and over the 45 years since, he has proved it was not a fluke. This film was an adaptation of the work of the renowned Czech writer, Bhumil Hrabal. With the success of this film under his belt, Menzel started work on another Hrabal’s novel, “Larks on a String”, which was awarded Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1990. His “l served the King of England” is the most awarded of his works including Golden Gladiator Award at the International Film Summer Festival in 2008 and FIPRESCI Prize in the Berlinale in 2007.
Jiri Menzel`s films are subtle, bittersweet comedies as he is of the conviction that ‘good comedy should be about serious things`. With so many kudos to his credit, he is a national hero and international treasure.