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Jiri Menzel: Oscar-winning Czech film director dies aged 82

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Czech Oscar-winning film director Jiri Menzel
Czech Oscar-winning film director Jiri Menzel   -   Copyright  Michal Dolezal/CTK via AP
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Oscar-winning Czech director Jiri Menzel has died at the age of 82.

He was a figure of the "Czechoslovak New Wave", which talked of freedom and protest against the communist regime.

The filmmaker, born on 23 February 1938, was also an actor, screenwriter and theatre director.

He won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1967 with his first feature film, Closely Watched Trains, a drama set against the backdrop of World War II.

Based on a novel by Czech author Bohumil Hrabal, it tells the story of a dispatcher’s apprentice coming of age at a small train station during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

His next collaboration with Hrabal, Larks on a String in 1969 was another tragicomic description of life under a totalitarian regime, this time under communism. It was immediately banned by the communist authorities.

After the 1989 anti-Communist revolution led by Vaclav Havel, it won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin international film festival.

His movie My Sweet Little Village was also nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign film.

Menzel was the recipient of the French Order of Arts and Literature.

Announcing his death late on Sunday, his wife, Olga Menzelova, wrote on Facebook: “Our beloved Jiřinko, the bravest of all the brave. Last night at home in our arms your body left our earthly world.”