Jiri Menzel dies at 82

Czech New Wave director had battled long illness

by Amber Wilkinson

Jiri Menzel on the red carpet at Karlovy Vary with William Friedkin in 2014
Jiri Menzel on the red carpet at Karlovy Vary with William Friedkin in 2014 Photo: Courtesy of Karlovy Vary Film Festival
Oscar-winning Czech director, writer and actor Jiri Menzel died on Saturday at the age of 82.

His wife Olga posted a tribute to her husband on Instagram and Facebook yesterday, writing: "Our beloved, the bravest of all the brave. Last night, at home in our arms, your body left our earthly world. It was a great honor to be able to accompany you on your last journey."

Menzel, who won the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1968 for his Nazi occupation romance Closely Observed Trains, was a leading figure of the Czech New Wave, with films including Larks On A String and Shortcuts.

In a directing career spanning more than 40 years, he was also Oscar nominated for My Sweet Little Village and carried on making films into the 2000s, including quirky comedy I Served The King Of England in 2006.

In addition to his role behind the camera, he acted regularly, notching up more than 80 TV and film credits. His final role was alongside Peter Simonischek in Martin Sulik's The Interpreter, a fictional consideration of the impact of Nazi leaders' lives on their children. Menzel was rarely seen in public after he underwent brain surgery in 2017.

Fellow Czech director Jan Hrebejk, who was Oscar-nominated for Divided We Fall, paid tribute to Menzel on Twitter with a photo of the pair of them adding, in another tweet, "I thank him for everything he did for us."

Menzel won a Czech Lion - the country's equivalent of an Oscar - for lifetime achievement and was honoured at Karlovy Vary Film Festival with a Crystal Globe for his outstanding contribution to world cinema. Like all recipients of the honour, the festival made a quirky trailer featuring the director and his prize, which you can see at the top of this article.

Share this with others on...
News

Director puts femmes to the fore Martin Provost on Juliette Binoche, gender divisions and revolution

Stay-At-Home Seven: November 23 to 30 - Streaming and TV suggestions Gems to watch on streaming services and TV for the coming week

Dreams of reality Jason Neulander on perception, reality and breaking the rules in his debut Fugitive Dreams

Streaming Spotlight - Icelandic cinema We're heading north for our watch-at-home selection this week

Electric dreams Marc Collin on Le Choc Du Futur and celebrating female pioneers

Catalan Film Festival announces hybrid line-up Scottish Spanish showcase runs from November 19 to December

More news and features

We're bringing you news, reviews and interviews from Tallinn Black Nights and DOC NYC.



We've recently been covering Sheffield DocFest, the London Korean Film Festival, Welsh horror festival Abertoir, New York's Newfest, the October edition of Frightfest, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, Manchester's Grimmfest and the San Sebastian Film Festival.



Read our full for more.


Visit our festivals section.

Interact

More competitions coming soon.