Jiří Menzel is considered a master of comedy and a central protagonist of the Czech New Wave. The Academy Award recipient was not permitted to practice his art in the ČSSR for long periods of time in reprisal for the biting satire of his early films. His film Larks on a String, which was banned in 1969 after the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring, celebrated its world premiere 21 years later at the Berlinale, where it was honoured with the Golden Bear.
Jiří Menzel was already busy producing diverse short films during his studies at the Prague film academy FAMU. After graduation, he took on smaller acting roles and served as a director’s assistant, before realising his debut feature, Closely Watched Trains, in 1966 – the film went on to receive the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1968. After the banning of Larks on a String, Menzel was primarily employed in theatres in the ČSSR and abroad, as well as working for Swedish television. In the mid 1970s he returned to directing films. In the 1990s, Menzel was again primarily active as a director at various theatres in Prague and on stages across Europe, including the Comédie-Française.
This year, Jiří Menzel can be seen as an actor in Martin Sulík’s film The Interpreter in the programme of Berlinale Special. On February 23, 2018, at Berlin’s Kino International cinema, director Martin Sulík accepted the Berlinale Camera on behalf of Jiří Menzel.