Director Jiří Menzel was among a group of esteemed Czechs to be awarded “new” honorary Prague citizenship on the last day of 2019.
The Oscar-award-winning director shared honors with oncologist Pavel Klener. Director of the Museum of Decorative Arts Helena Koenigsmarková and conductor Jiří Chvála received the silver medal of the City of Prague.
Awards are given to extraordinary personalities whose work is connected with the capital and who have contributed to spreading its fame in the world.
Menzel’s first feature film Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky, 1966), is often pointed to as the pinnacle of Czech cinematic achievement. The comedy-tragedy took home the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1968 and tells the story of a young man working at a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. The film is based on a 1965 novel by Bohumil Hrabal.
The Prague-born Menzel would later revisit the work of Hrabal with his 2006 film I Served the King of England.
A member of the Czech new wave, Menzel was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film again in 1986 with his dark comedy My Sweet Little Village. The 81-year-old director widely influenced film cinematography as well as the Prague theater scene.
The director has faced serious illness and wheelchair confinement in recent years; his wife Olga (41) accepted the award from the mayor’s office on his behalf.