One of the Czech Republic’s most celebrated filmmakers, Věra Chytilová was the director of such films as Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise), O něčem jiném (Something Different), and the seminal Czech New Wave classic Sedmikrásky (Daisies).
That film, in particular, garnered Chytilová international recognition; it was awarded the Grand Prix at the Bergamo film festival upon release, and recently included in a BBC list of the 100 best comedies ever made. Chytilová was one of only four female directors in the top 100.
But Soviet censors didn’t appreciate Daisies as much as critics and audiences; the countercultural movie was deemed to be “depicting the wanton” and Chytilová was banned from directing for eight years.
While Czech filmmakers like Miloš Forman and Ivan Passer left the country and found success in Hollywood, Chytilová stayed in Czechoslovakia. When she returned to directing in the mid 1970s, however, her films – and those of friends and colleagues like Jiří Menzel – no longer made it past the border.
Recent efforts have been made to try to correct that, and right now Chytilová is being celebrated with an extensive retrospective at the Doclisboa documentary film festival in Portugal.
How extensive? Well, the festival is screening 33 of Chytilová’s films – the vast majority of her filmography, including many of the director’s TV and student films.
Among the movies presented will be Daisies, Fruit of Paradise, and Something Different, along with features such as Dědictví aneb Kurvahošigutntag (The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodbye), Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne (The Very Late Afternoon of the Faun), Kopytem sem, kopytem tam (Tainted Horseplay), Vlčí bouda (Wolf’s Hole), and many more.
Nearly all of the director’s fiction features will be screened during the course of Doclisboa festival, which runs through the end of the month.
If you haven’t seen much of Věra Chytilová’s work beyond her Czech New Wave films, use this as an opportunity to do some exploration. You might not be in Lisbon, but many of Chytilová’s films are available locally on DVD with English subtitles.
Lead photo: Chytilová in her 1993 documentary Kam panenky…? (Where are You Going, Girls?)