2. 6. 2017

Zlín Film Festival to Appreciate Lifetime Work of Theodor Pištěk

This year’s Golden Slipper will be awarded by the organizers of the Zlín Film Festival to Theodor Pištěk, a painter, costume designer, holder of the Oscar, César, and of the Czech Lion. The award will be presented to him Friday, June 2, during the closing ceremony of the 57th festival.

The famous costume designer participated in a total of 111 films and apart from Miloš Forman also worked with many other Czech (František Vláčil, Oldřich Lipský, Jiří Menzel, Jiří Krejčík, Juraj Herz) as well as many foreign directors (Janusz Majewski, Bob Hoskins, Jerzy Skolimowski). However, his participation in the production of numerous films and TV series is only one of the reasons why the organizers of the Zlín Film Festival decided to appreciate his work.

During the closing ceremony of the 57th Zlín Film Festival, Theodor Pištěk will become the 21st holder of this honorary award. "This came as a big surprise to me, which makes me even more happy. In short, I am very pleased," was Theodor Pištěk‘s reaction to the news.

In addition to attending the final gala evening, Pištěk presented an extensive retrospective of his paintings at the Zlín Chateau.

Mr. Pištěk, what was your first reaction when you learned that the Zlín festival had decided to present you with an award for your work for children and youth?

This came as a big surprise to me and made me even more happy. In short, I am very pleased.

How did you start your film career in 1960s? What was it like to work with the legendary director František Vláčil?

If it wasn’t for my accidental encounter with František Vláčil, I would never have crossed the threshold of Barrandov. I didn‘t have any training in filmmaking work and I was simply given a new task. At first, it looked like a one-time job, but it turned out to be one for a lifetime.

František Vláčil was an absolutely extraordinary personality of Czech culture, and working with him was something wonderful and unrepeatable.

Does your work in the genre of "cinematography for children and youth" differ in any way from your work on films for adult audiences? For instance, did your work on Girl on the Broomstick mean any new challenges for you? Your collaboration with the Macourek & Vorlíček duo must have been inspiring and certainly a lot of fun!

I do not put filmmaking for children and young people into double quotes and I don’t call it a genre. It's a fireworks of fantasy and adventure. This is especially true of my cooperation with Vorlíček and Miloš Macourek. Their invention would put Hollywood on its knees.

We must ask you about your collaboration with the Zlín studio on Zdeněk Sirový’s westerns (David Sandel’s Last Shot). What are your memories of it?

My cooperation with Zdeněk Sirový was unfortunately very short, and I hoped that "David Sandel’s Last Shot " was just a beginning of further collaboration on other projects. Zdeněk Sirový was a great man and I also love westerns.

The design of period costumes for Boys Will Be Boys was probably only seemingly easier…

Boys Will Be Boys was an exceptional project. Mark Twain's books about the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, which served as inspiration for this film by Věra Plívová, were always closely associated with the American South for me. It was not easy for me to accept this new version - I was constantly missing the black Jim - but eventually, Boys Will Be Boys turned out to be one of my favourites.

And what was it like to collaborate with the German co-producers and filmmakers on Vorlíček’s Three Nuts for Cinderella? Was the co-production more of an advantage or a disadvantage?

My cooperation with the German co-production was really not that good. These gentlemen thought that my presence on the set in Germany would be too costly and so I was assigned a co-worker who was supposed to act as my substitute on the set. Of course, he made all sorts of mistakes. I’d rather not to be very specific about them.

The trilogy Call of the Tribe – Settlement of Crows – At the Great River, based on the novels of Eduard Štorch, was apparently a unique challenge. How does one design prehistoric costumes?

Prehistoric costumes are play and fun, as well as a lot of imagination and certain exploration of the resources available to primeval people. Hides and hides again. How to create a pattern? How to turn Jiří Bartoška into a caveman? The Venus of Dolní Věstonice didn’t have that much on.

The work on one of your biggest TV projects, the Arabela series, was incredibly extensive and therefore laborious. How much time did you spend on it?

Arabella seemed endless to me. The incredible requirements Macourek and Vorlíček had on me were coming one after another, but fortunately we were in tune and everything had a good end.

You must have been pleased by the international success of Arabela and also of The Visitors. They certainly made you famous. When you later worked on big American productions, what basic difference in approach to shooting and to your profession did you notice?

I'm glad you're asking me this.

You are asking about the different approaches to shooting here and in America – we would need several more sheets of paper to describe it. I always solved it for myself by enforcing my own style and system of work, and managing to find understanding and effort of my team to work with me with the greatest possible commitment.


Theodor Pištěk (*1932 in Prague)

Theodor Pištěk appeared on the art scene in the late 1950s, after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts, and has remained one of the most important and respected artists. The climax of this work was his collaboration with Miloš Forman and triumph in the form of an Oscar for Best Costume Design. In 1990, the same duo received the French Film Academy‘s César for Best Costume Design for the film Valmont, which was also nominated for Oscar in the same category.

Together with Václav Havel and Jiří Kolář, he was the initiator and founder of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award for young artists. In 1990, shortly after the Velvet Revolution, Theodor Pištěk designed the uniforms for the Prague Castle Guard.

In 2000, President Václav Havel awarded him the first-grade medal for excellent artistic results. In 2003, he was awarded the Czech Lion Award for long-term artistic contribution to Czech film, and in 2013 he received the Crystal Globe at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinematography.