Czech director Jiri Menzel, winner of the Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 1967 for “Closely Watched Trains”, died on Saturday, September 5, his wife, Olga Menzelova, announced on her Facebook page. He was 82.
Our most beloved Jirka, the bravest among the brave, yesterday, in our home and in our loving arms, your body left this earthly life. It was our utmost honor and privilege that we could be with you on your last pilgrimage to eternity. Your love for me, and for our girls was the kind of love that never lays down conditions.
Dearest Jirka, I thank you for each and every single day I could spend with you. Each was extraordinary. I am also grateful to you for the last three years, as hard as they were. You kept always helping me with your courage, with your appetite and your will to live, and with your humor. I wish for you “a pretty little cloud” as you often used to say… Death cannot end anything. I believe we will meet again, in whatever way. It simply must be so because I feel it cannot be otherwise. I caress you. We love you, from the bottom of our hearts, and forever. Your girls. Olinka, Anička, and Eva.
Menzel was a member of the Czech New Wave, Czechoslovak filmmakers who started making movies in the 1960s. His other film Larks on a String was filmed in 1969, but was banned by the Czechoslovakian government. It was finally released in 1990 after the fall of the Communist regime and won the Golden Bear at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival.
Menzel was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film again in 1986 with My Sweet Little Village.