Czech director Otakar Vavra dies

Helmer helped set up FAMU film school

PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100.

In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films he directed and 80 he wrote, Vavra and cohorts founded FAMU, the Czech Republic’s most respected film school, in 1946.

FAMU, where he also taught until 2008, inspiring such pupils as Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel and Emir Kusturica, remains one of Central Europe’s most prestigious film training academies.

Menzel has said that Vavra was a key figure in driving the development of Czech film.

Vavra first attracted attention with pics like comedy “The Virgins’ Club” in 1938, and 1940’s “Girl in Blue,” which starred Lida Baarova, a Czech starlet whose affair with the married Joseph Goebbels outraged Adolf Hitler.

His films of the ’60s, however, such as 1965’s “Golden Apples” and the sly parable on paranoia and political persecution, “Witch’s Hammer” (1969), form his most prized artistic legacy to critics.

Vavra was awarded the Czech Republic’s highest cultural honor in 2004, the Medal of Merit, by President Vaclav Klaus.

Vavra is survived by his partner, director Jitka Nemcova.

More Film

  • James Bond Skyfall

    Universal Wins International Rights to James Bond 25

    PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100. In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films […]

  • In 'That Summer,' the Stars of

    In 'That Summer,' the Stars of 'Grey Gardens' Look More Unhinged Than Ever

    PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100. In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films […]

  • Alice Eve's Comedy 'Bees Make Honey'

    Film News Roundup: Alice Eve's Comedy 'Bees Make Honey' Set for July Release

    PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100. In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films […]

  • China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film

    China Appoints Wang Xiaohui as Film Bureau Chief

    PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100. In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films […]

  • Morgan Freeman Sexual Harassment

    Morgan Freeman Pulled From Visa Marketing After Harassment Allegations

    PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100. In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films […]

  • Boba Fett movie

    ‘Star Wars:’ A Boba Fett Movie Is in the Works

    PRAGUE — Czech director Otakar Vavra, who built up his oeuvre under Nazi occupation and the communist regime, but was revered as a true original, died in a Prague hospital Thursday, where he was recovering from a neck injury. He was 100. In addition to forging a distinctive body of compelling work, including 50 films […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content