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Renowned Czech director Jiri Menzel died of COVID-19, widow reveals


Prague, Czech Republic – World-renowned Czech movie director Jiri Menzel, who passed away on September 5 this year, died of COVID-19, his widow Olga Menzelova told local tabloid Blesk.

According to the iconic filmmaker’s widow, Jiri Menzel passed away after contracting a COVID-19-induced pneumonia. His early symptoms included high fever and a cough.

Jiri Menzel was among the most famous and celebrated Czech movie directors of all time and became, along with Milos Forman, one of the most prominent figures of the Czechoslovak New Wave in the 1960’s.

Closely Watched Trains (1966), his debut feature film based on the short story by writer Bohumil Hrabal, was the second Czechoslovak movie to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film after The Shop on Main Street (1965).

His other notable movies include Larks on a String (1969), winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Secluded, Near Woods (1976) and I Served the King of England (2006).

Throughout his prolific career, which included a number of movies banned under communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, Menzel adapted numerous works of Czech literature, including many novels by Bohumil Hrabal or Vladislav Vancura.

A celebrated actor as well, he recently starred in The Interpreter, Slovakia’s official submission for the 2019 Academy Awards.

He passed away this September at the age of 82, and is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.

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