News Eva Zaoralová (1932–2022)

Published: March 11, 2022| 01:05 PM

Some news we wish would never come. On Thursday 10 March, Eva Zaoralová left us forever.

Journalist and translator Eva Zaoralová was the longtime artistic director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and most recently its artistic advisor, but for everyone who helped organize the festival or who in some way came into contact with her, she was always our “Dr. Zaoralová.”

In 1994, when chance or fate brought Eva Zaoralová and Jiří Bartoška together, few people believed that they would even manage to keep the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, which was on the brink of ruin, alive. But they did much more, turning the festival into a renowned and internationally respected event.

Although she herself resisted it, the fact that everybody called her by her academic title was an expression of respect and admiration for her extraordinary knowledge, insight, and ability to capture precisely, in just a few sentences, what others would need stacks of papers to say. It was an expression of how joyful it was to be able to work with her and learn from her. She knew how to look at situations with a sense of humor and perspective, and it was a pleasure to witness the affectionate banter between her and Jiří Bartoška.

Eva and I always liked to joke that our relationship was a kind of permitted second marriage. It lasted nearly thirty years. When you spend that much time creating something with someone, it is difficult to come to terms with the fact that the other person is no longer there, that the end is final,” says Jiří Bartoška.

Eva Zaoralová succeeded in giving the Karlovy Vary festival an artistic face. She put together a team that helped her to realize her vision. With a prudent eye to the festival’s future, she chose who would continue her work. She also enjoyed the rare unanimous respect of journalists and filmmakers alike. It was actually an immense honor to be subjected to Eva Zaoralová’s critical eye.

It may sound clichéd to say that she will always be with us, and if there is one thing Dr. Zaoralová did not like it was clichés – not in films and not in life. We will miss her.

Eva Zaoralová was one of the most important representatives of Czech film journalism and criticism. In her many years as a journalist, she contributed significantly to the development of film journalism, helped to popularize Italian and French cinema, and was internationally respected within her field. In 1994, she joined forces with Jiří Bartoška to renew the prestige of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, of which she was made artistic director the following year. Under her leadership, the festival’s programming team managed to turn KVIFF into an annual cinematic event on a par with some of the world’s most important festivals. Later, she worked with the festival as an artistic advisor.

Eva Zaoralová sat on the jury of many international film festivals, including Venice, Berlin, Cannes, Mannheim, Wiesbaden, and Antalya, among others. As a journalist, she spent many years involved in the activities of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI). In 2002, the French government awarded her the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), and in 2012 she was raised to the rank of Officier. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Cannes Film Festival, she was presented with a plaque honoring her many years of journalistic activities. In 2010, the President of the Czech Republic awarded her the Medal of Merit in the field of culture.


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