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Věra Chytilová RIP
Aug Stone , March 14th, 2014 12:04

Pioneering Czech film-maker, known for her landmark feature Daisies

Věra Chytilová, the "First Lady of Czech Cinema", passed away on Wednesday at the age of 85. A leading light of the Czech New Wave, she is best known for her wildly inventive 1966 feature Daisies. Vibrant, anarchic, fun (while at the same time being a philosophical meditation on freedom as well as harsh social critique), two teenage girls decide that since the world is spoiled, "we'll be spoiled too". Through the loosest of narrative structure, the film follows them as they wreak havoc upon everything they come across. Exploiting men, crashing cabarets, scissor fights, and culminating in an enormous food fight that got the film banned by Czech authorities who considered such excess 'wasteful' (instead of perhaps a condemnation of capitalism). With changing colour filters, stylistic jumps, cut-ups, collages, and other such techniques, the film is a visual delight. Chytilová stated: "We decided to allow ourselves to be bound by nothing. Absolutely nothing." And Daisies does indeed offer up an enormous realm of possibilities - watch it in full above.

Born February 2, 1929 in Ostrava, her early interest in and attempts at literature, acting, and photography culminated in her finding her passion for filmmaking when she moved from Brno to Prague. The only woman on her course at the Film Academy (FAMU), she initially told the directors she wanted to study because she didn't like their films, finding the predictability and rigidity boring. As she says in Jasmina Blažević's documentary on her, Cesta (Journey), "I simply felt, from the beginning, that everything is possible. I wanted absolute freedom, even if it was a mistake." She released her first feature, Something Different, in 1963, later shown at the First International Festival Of Women's Films in New York in 1972. Following on from Daisies, came Fruit Of Paradise and The Apple Game. Work in the 70s was made difficult and sporadic by government censorship but grew more frequent since 1978 with recent notable films being The Inheritance Or Fuckoffguysgoodbye, Exile From Paradise and Pleasant Memories, along with the documentaries Searching For Ester (about Ester Krumbachová, co-writer of Daisies and a major personality in the Czech New Wave) and Flights And Falls (exploring the lives of three Czech photographers, including her ex-husband Karel Ludwig).