Miloš Forman

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File:Milos Forman Wachsfigur Prag.jpg
Wax figure of Miloš Forman at Prague wax museum

Jan Tomáš Forman (born February 18, 1932), better known as Miloš Forman, is a film director, actor and script writer.

Forman was born in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia to a Jewish father and a Protestant mother. He was orphaned at a very young age when his parents died at the concentration camp in Auschwitz for their membership in a Czech Resistance group. After the war, Miloš attended King George College public school in the spa town Poděbrady, where his fellow students were Václav Havel and the Mašín brothers. Later on he studied film direction at the School of Cinema in Prague. He directed several Czech comedies in Czechoslovakia. However, in 1968 when the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the country to end the Prague Spring, he was in Paris negotiating for the production of his first American film. The Czech studio that he worked for fired him, claiming that he was out of the country illegally. He moved to New York, where he later became a professor of film at Columbia University and co-chair (with Frantisek Franek) of Columbia's film division.

In spite of initial difficulties he started directing in his new home country, he achieved success in 1975 with the adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won five Academy Awards including one for direction. In 1977, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Another notable success was Amadeus, which won eight Academy Awards. His later movies haven't enjoyed as much success.

Forman's early movies are still very popular among Czechs. Many of the situations and phrases made it into common use: for example, the Czech term zhasnout (to switch lights off) from The Firemen's Ball, associated with petty theft in the movie, become synonymous for real large-scale asset stripping happening in the country during the 1990s.

In 1997 he received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


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