Jiri Menzel


Photo©NFA Prague
Director Jiri Menzel
Writer Bohumil Hrabal, Jiri Menzel
Camera Jaromir Sofr
Editor Jirina Lukesova
Cast Vaclav Neckar, Rudolf Hrusinsky, Vlastimil Brodsky, Jitka Zelenohorska, Jaroslav Satoransky, Vladimir Smeral, Ferdinand Kruta, Frantisek Rehak, Leos Sucharipa, Vladimir Ptacek, Eugen Jegorov
Sound Jiri Pavlik
Producer Karel Kochman
Year 1969
Length 94 min
Country Czechoslovakia
Subtitles English
Screening Sunday 11 November | 19:00 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag

A remarkable, dark, bitter comedy directed by Oscar winning director Jiri Menzel. The film was banned by the Czechoslovak government and went unseen until the fall of the Communist regime and its premiere at the 1990 Berlinale, where it won the Golden Bear.
The film will be screeened in the presence of Václav Neckář, famous Czech singer and actor, who many remember from Jiri Menzel’s Oscar winning ‘Closely Watched Trains’.


Set in the late 1950s in communist Czechoslovakia, the story concerns the irrepressible goodness of a bunch of intelligent and educated people who are imprisoned by the government in labour camps for being ‘bourgeois elements’ and forced to work in a junkyard for the purposes of re-education. It focuses on the playful, perky and romantic interactions between the male and female groups of prisoners while in the meantime some of them are taken away in a mysterious black car, never to be seen again. A funny, bitter, satirical, allegorical and meaningful Czech classic about the significance of humour and the strength of human spirit while living under repressive regimes.

Director's bio

Born on February 23, 1938 in Prague, the Academy Award-winning Jiri Menzel is one of the most influential names in 20th century European cinema. Alongside Milos Forman and Vera Chytilova, he is a leading representative of the Czech New Wave. Menzel’s debut ‘Closely Watched Trains’ won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967, and he has since produced around 30 films that are marked by controversial political topics and subtle irony for which some have been censored. Menzel is an actor too, and has more than 75 film performances in his acting filmography.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Berlin International Film Festival, 1990 – Golden Bear award, FIPRESCI Prize | Finale Plzen Film Festival, 1990 – Golden Kingfisher award | Montreal Film Festival, 1990 | Locarno Film Festival, 1990 | Singapore International Film Festival, 1991 | Cottbus Film Festival, 2004