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Ivan Passer’s Legacy Preserved

The Czech Embassy is proud to have played an important role in returning a national treasure - the estate of Czech-American director Ivan Passer - to the Czech Republic.

The Czech Embassy led the collaboration with the Czech Republic’s National Film Archive, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in bringing a significant collection of prominent Czech-American filmmaker and screenwriter Ivan Passer back to his homeland.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomáš Petríček stated, “I am thrilled that our colleagues at the Czech Embassy in Washington, DC, were able to work with the National Film Archive and Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic to acquire and bring the archive and estate of the significant Czech screenwriter and director, Ivan Passer, to the Czech Republic. His films and screenplays belong to the fundamental foundation of Czech cinematography, which were totally neglected in former Czechoslovakia during the period from his emigration in 1969 to the Velvet Revolution. After the fall of communism and the formation of new Czech diplomacy in our free country, Passer’s work, thanks to its ageless quality and timelessness, was immediately a part of international showcases of Czech cinematography, particularly of the golden era of the 1960s, and shown to this day at our embassies all over the world.”

The National Film Archive acquired the director’s estate, which included screenplays, film production documents, videos, personal diaries, family and work-related photographs, personal finances, correspondence, and even cooking recipes. The collection, transferred in thirty-four large boxes, even included a set of golf playing cards with notes on how to improve one’s golf game. The director had a passion for gambling and golf, which he shared with fellow filmmaker and close friend Miloš Forman. The collection is immensely significant as it offers a look into the beloved director’s work and personal life.

Ambassador of the Czech Republic Hynek Kmoníček noted, “The preservation of Czech cultural heritage, wherever it may be around the world, belongs to the brighter part of our work at the Embassy. The Czech Republic is a sort of superpower, thanks to its culture, and, thus, we have to preserve our heritage for the future.”

Heartwarmingly, among the items acquired by the National Film Archive is Ivan Passer’s Crystal Globe trophy for his lifetime contribution to world cinema, which he received at the prestigious Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2008.

Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Lubomír Zaorálek said, “I hold the work of Czech born Ivan Passer in high esteem…Passer is regarded as one of the representatives of the Czech New Wave in Czechoslovak cinematography and stands next to Miloš Forman among our giants of film. Because of this, I am glad that it was possible to transfer the estate of Ivan Passer to the Czech Republic, where it will remain in the professional care of the National Film Archive. In my judgment, this is an outstanding collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Appreciation also goes out to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington for its work on this project.”

Ivan Passer was an influential filmmaker of the Czech New Wave, a movement of filmmaking during a time of unprecedented artistic freedom in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, best known for his Czech film Intimate Lightning (1965). He worked closely with Miloš Forman on Loves of a Blonde (1965) and The Firemen’s Ball (1967). He fled communist Czechoslovakia with Miloš Forman in 1969 and built his life and prominent forty-year career in Hollywood, directing American films such as Born to Win (1971), Silver Bears (1978), Cutter’s Way (1981), Creator (1985), and Stalin (1992).  Ivan Passer, who was born in Prague, died last year at the age of 86 in Reno, Nevada.


Czech Television Report link
Czech Radio - "Czech Film Archive begins unboxing treasures from director Ivan Passer’s estate" - link
Czech Radio - "National Film Archive acquires Ivan Passer’s estate" - link

Video of the National Film Archive Acquisition of Ivan Passer collection


Ivan Passer