Actor Jaromír Hanzlík will receive the President’s Award for Artistic Contribution to Czech Cinema at the upcoming 53rd Karlovy Vary IFF. The Karlovy Vary festival will also screen Searching, directed by Antonín Máša and Jan Čuřík.
Jaromír Hanzlík, who celebrated his 70th birthday this year, has been a star of the Czech stage and screen, both large and small, for decades. He began his rewarding career at a young age; in 1966, the 18 year old earned an engagement on one of the foremost Prague stages, Vinohrady Theater. Until his departure in the early 1990s Hanzlík filled numerous roles in seminal plays by Czech and world dramatists, including The Outlaw, Hamlet, Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich, The Government Inspector, Crime and Punishment, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Oedipus.
At the same time, he snagged his first film roles, and they were significant because he had already worked with a number of directors. He began his acting career in children’s TV movies, portraying roles that included Huckleberry Finn. In film, director Zdeněk Sirový cast him in the lead in Das finnische Messer (1965), after which he regularly appeared in other films. His filmography includes the above-mentioned Searching (1965), as well as Every Young Man (1965, dir. Pavel Juráček), an adaptation of František Hrubín’s Romance for Trumpet (1966, dir. Otakar Vávra), Coach to Vienna (1966, dir. Karel Kachyňa), the war film The Marathon (1968, dir. Ivo Novák), The Joke (1968, dir. Jaromil Jireš), and Honor and Glory (1968, dir. Hynek Bočan). He took on comedy as his next genre, and thanks to television series (“Such a Normal Family,” “Hospital at the End of the City,” “There Once Was a House,” “Ambulance,” “Circus Humberto,” “Good Water”), stage productions (The Lodgers, Father or Brother, and A Letter Written in Spanish), and movies (Majesties and Cavaliers, 1969; A Night at Karlstein, 1973; How to Drown Dr. Mracek, The Lawyer, 1974; and Summer with a Cowboy, 1976), Jaromír Hanzlík became one of the most beloved Czech actors. Television, in turn, also offered him superb dramatic roles, including in Jiří Hubač’s award-winning work The Fall of Icarus (1977) and its loose sequel Migratory Birds (1983).
In the 1980s he enjoyed success alongside Jiří Menzel, under whose direction he portrayed distinctive, idiosyncratic, and tragicomic characters à la Hrabal, such as the palavering uncle Pepin in Shortcuts (1980), the enthusiastic junk collector Leli from The Snowdrop Festival (1983), and the rather dull castle librarian Bernard Spara in a film based on the Vladislav Vančura novel The End of Old Times (1989).
At the beginning of the 1990s Jaromír Hanzlík decided to curtail his acting work; since then he only rarely accepts roles and those are carefully selected. Nevertheless, his work from this period includes significant parts as well – for example, in the TV movie The Witness (2001) and the sequel to the TV series “Ambulance,” as well as in Robert Sedláček’s movie comedy Men in Rut (2009). His most recent cinema role to date came in Jan Pachl’s crime drama Gangster Ka (2015).
image: Jaromír Hanzlík (Credit: L. Hatašová)