Cult Czech filmmaker Věra Chytilová dies

The 85-year-old director of the anarchic masterpiece Daisies and pioneer of Czech New Wave has passed away

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Still from Daisies (1966)

Věra Chytilová, one of the leading filmmakers of the Czech New Wave cinema, has died aged 85. She died on Wednesday after battling an undisclosed illness for years.

She is best known for her critically acclaimed 1966 film Daisies, an anarchic comedy about two girls wreaking playful havoc, which the Soviet-era authorities banned. It went on to win the Grand Prix at the Bergamo Film Festival in Italy in 1967.

Chytilová refused to leave Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion, and the hardline Communist regime made it diffcult for her to work – in the 1960s they not only banned her films from cinemas, but also stopped her from working on new ones.

Věra Chytilová
Věra Chytilová on set

A self-confessed control freak, and a confrontational figure renowned for arguing on set, she once famously told reporters "I have no desire to cuddle my audience." She was an absurdist and an experimentalist that made twenty features, her most notable works being Fruit of ParadiseThe Automat World, The Inheritance and Daisies.

The influence of the cult filmmaker is still felt today. New York-based filmmaker Marie Losier, whose documentary portraits include The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye on Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s very non-traditional romance, told Dazed that she first saw Daisies when she arrived in America after leaving France at 19. 

"It changed my life," Losier said. "It’s really about excessive appetites for food, for sex, for pleasures; Marie I and Marie II decide to be bad and go all the way with wit and eccentricity, and a total freedom for experimenting. Experimenting is key even to its making, with a collage of colours, texture, shapes, sound, actions, genres and surrealist cinematography. Daisies makes you want to run in a field of daisies with them and follow their dance of excess and absurdity!"

Chytilová is survived by a daughter, Tereza, and a son, Stepan.

We've teamed up with Hackney Picturehouse to show a double bill of Chytilová's films on April 13th.

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