Current Affairs Director Miloš Forman turns 80
Director Miloš Forman celebrates his 80th birthday on Saturday, and newspapers in his native country are full of tributes. In the small category of Czech artists who have conquered the world, Forman has a seat among the likes of Antonín Dvořák and Milan Kundera and Czechs are duly proud of him for his success. But his approach to filmmaking and style of direction also permanently altered the course of cinematography in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, a fact we discussed earlier with Karel Och, the artistic director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
“I’m convinced that the cinema of Miloš Forman - and that of his colleagues from the generation of the Czechoslovak New Wave, and especially Forman – influenced all the generations that came after them, and in every generation there have been a few filmmakers who communicated through this legacy. Saša Gedeon for example, in his beginnings, was compared to the Czechoslovak New Wave, and even Bohdan Sláma, if you watch his films there are some hints of this, though I’m not saying he was directly influenced. But I think these films from the 1960s, one way or another, were a great influence, and that’s something that every filmmaker has to relate to, or communicate.”
What is it specifically about those films of Miloš Forman, how would you describe them to people who are more familiar with his American work?
“There are all kinds of elements, but for instance the fact of combining actors with non-actors. That’s actually something that we often discuss on our travels abroad with filmmakers when we talk about their approach, and whether they prefer actors or non-actors. That’s an example that comes to mind because just last week I was having a conversation about exactly this with the Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos, who was nominated for an Oscar for Dogtooth last year, and Forman’s name came up. So that might be one answer to your question.”
There have been some indications he may not make any more films; do you have any idea what his plans for the future might be?
“I’m not sure, I’ve been hearing about several projects over the last years. I very much hope we haven’t seen the last film yet. We know that it usually takes him several years to make a new film, and I would love to see a new one in the next year or two, because it’s always like a special event. It doesn’t matter what the reception is, or when it comes out, it’s always an event, because the film are just incredible and a delight to watch.”
You see hundreds of films a year, are there any directors at the present, or individual films, that have reminded you of his work? Is there any up and coming claim to the Forman throne?
“Well, there’s an American director, Cary Fukunaga, who I wouldn’t say is similar, but he is a young director who is in total control of his films, which still seem very elegant and not over-controlled, starting with a strong story and very particular in approach and characters, editing, and especially musical editing, which makes Forman a very interesting director. That might be an example of someone who has a very bright future and already in his early years is quite unique.”