Magazine article Variety

Admired Talent Gathers Fest's Coveted Kudos

Magazine article Variety

Admired Talent Gathers Fest's Coveted Kudos

Article excerpt

JIRINA BOHDALOVA

The President's Award

Actress Jirina Bohdalová will receive the President's Award at the upcoming 51st Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival. A force in Czech entertainment for nearly 80 years and one of its most beloved figures, the still-active Bohdalová's career spans stage, film, and television performances. Cementing her reputation as a national treasure, she also hosted (with Vladimir Dvorák) the massively successful, long-running, live TV sketch show "Televarieté," dubbed foreign films and provided expressive voice work on numerous Czech animated TV series, particularly the fairy tales created for "Evening Story." ["Vecernicek"]. Writer-director Slávek Horák ["Home Care"] recalls, "Whole generations [including mine] grew up listening to her every evening at 7, universally accepted by kids and parents as the bedtime call."

So ubiquitous a figure is "Bohdalka" [as her fans affectionately refer to her] that it is nearly impossible to conceive of Czech popular culture without her.

Born in 1931 to a workingclass family in Prague, Bohdalová was a precocious extrovert from a young age. Her mother, an amateur actress, enrolled her in ballet school and let her serve as a film extra. Her first cinema appearance came in the 1937 silent "Pizla a Zizla na cestách." After graduating from Prague's prestigious theater academy, Damu, Bohdalová capitalized on her energy and self-confidence to make a name in comic roles, although she would ultimately define herself as a tragi-comic actress. She is a true natural who knows how to work her gift and demonstrates the rare ability to bond with viewers without trying too hard. Known for her sparkle and spunk, she played characters who could dish it out as well as take it. She is famous for her incredible comic timing, facial expressions [see what she can do with the merest flutter of her eyelashes or the cock of an eyebrow] and remarkable vocal range.

In the cinema, Bohdalová worked mostly with mainstream directors, including Jirí Sequens, Martin Fric and Hynek Bocan. Comedies and musicals such as "The Cassandra Cat" (1963), "Lady on the Tracks" (1966), "Men About Town" (1969), and "Four Murders Are Enough Darling" (1971) provided her most popular roles. Nevertheless, one of her most famous turns came in the iconic Czechoslovak New Wave drama "The Ear" (1970, banned until 1990) from helmer Karel Kachyna. She excels as the sharp-tongued, boozy wife of a paranoid government minister played by Radoslav Brzobohatÿ (the man who soon become her second husband).

Karlovy Vary will screen a restored print of "The Ear" in conjunction with the presentation of her prize. Other notable titles in which she inimitably combines comic and dramatic aspects include "A Star Named Wormwood" (1964), "Burglar and Umbrella" (1970), "Laughter Sticks to Your Heels" (1986), "Corpus Delicti" (1991) and "One Cat After the Other" (1993). She won Czech Lion awards for her starring role in the fairy tale "The Immortal Woman" (1993) and in the drama "Fany" (1995).

Bohdalová launched her stage career with legendary director Jan Werich at Prague's ABC Theater. She later joined the ensemble at the Vinohrady Theater where she remained until 2004. Her signature roles include Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion" and Erzi Orbánová in István Orkény's "Catsplay." In 2010, she received a Thalia Award for her lifelong contribution to dramatic theater. …

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