Czech Director Jan Nemec Dies at 79

He was prominent in the new wave of Czechoslovak cinema of the 1960s.

Czech director Jan Nemec, who took a prominent part in the new wave of Czechoslovak cinema in the 1960s, died Friday in Prague. He was 79.

The local newspaper Dnes reported the filmmaker's passing, attributing the information to his wife Iva Ruszeláková. The cause of death was not revealed.

Nemec came to the limelight in the 1960s, when the new wave of Czechoslovak cinema emerged, signifying a radical departure from the socialist realism genre imposed by the Communist rulers. The movement's other prominent members were Milos Forman and Vera Chytilova.

Nemec's 1964 feature debut Démanty noci (Diamonds of the Night), centered on two boys escaping from a transport to a Nazi death camp, brought the helmer the grand prix of the Mannheim film festival.

The director's next feature, O slavnosti a hostech (Report on the Party and Guests), a political thriller that satirized the totalitarian rule, was banned by Communist censors.

When the Soviets invaded Prague in 1968, he smuggled footage of the invasion out of the country and used it for the documentary Oratorio for Prague.

Subsequently banned from making films, Nemec emigrated in 1974 and worked in France, Germany, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S.

He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1989 and continued to make films, also teaching directing at FAMU film school.

Before his death, Nemec worked on an autobiographical feature titled Vlk z Královských Vinohrad (Královských Vinohrad Wolf).