PRAGUE — Czech screenwriter Jiri Krizan, a former dissident and collaborator of Vaclav Havel’s, died of a heart attack Oct. 13 in Branky, Czech Republic.
Krizan was a master of spare political intrigue stories, who despite being blacklisted by the state, wrote 1980’s “Signum Laudis” and 1982’s “Shadows of a Hot Summer” helmed by Frantisek Vlacil, which won top honors at the Karlovy Vary film fest.
Krizan’s father was put to death by the communist regime, which also harassed the scribe, but he managed to study at Prague’s Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) before working as a journalist and screenwriter.
In 1971, his novel “Exercicia” was published in Sweden and the Netherlands.
Going into politics, Krizan penned with Havel the “Several Sentences” manifesto in 1989 that challenged the state authorities to free political prisoners and grant basic human rights. He was an adviser Havel’s first administration, after which he returned to screenwriting and taught at FAMU. In 1998 Krizan won the Czech Lion award for his script of “Sekal Has to Die,” helmed by Vladimir Michalek.
He also ran unsuccessfully for office in the newly formed TOP 09 reform party in the May general election.
“I am deeply hit by the sudden death of Jiri Krizan because we were very close friends,” Havel said in a statement. “Since the spring of 1989, he was one of my closest colleagues … and helped me a great deal as my adviser at the Prague Castle.”
There was no immediate word on survivors.