​​The Film Society of Lincoln Center is pleased to present the U.S.’s first complete retrospective of the works of Czech animation master Jiri Trnka (1912-1969). With 18 short and six feature-length animated films, Trnka was rivaled only by Walt Disney Studios in output. Revered as the pioneer of a remarkable new genre of animation that utilized puppets, Trnka conveyed the drama and psychology of his characters through his figures’ body language, expressive lighting, and camera movement. A prolific artist, beloved book illustrator, and author before making his first movie, Trnka had enormous impact on the development of animation in his country, and he inspired the careers of an entire generation of filmmakers around the globe. This essential series includes two new digital restorations and 11 newly translated works directed by Trnka, as well as a two-program sidebar dedicated to Jiri Brdecka, a screenwriter and animation director whose close friendship with Trnka occasioned a number of short- and feature-film collaborations.

The touring retrospective is produced by Comeback Company. Organized by Irena Kovarova with Florence Almozini and Tyler Wilson. Films provided by the Czech National Film Archive.

Alex Zucker; Martina Raclavska; Marketa Santrochova, Czech Film Center; Michal Bregant, Katerina Fojtova, Tomas Zurek, Michaela Mertova, Czech National Film Archive

Special thanks to the Czech Center New York.

A Tribute to Jiri Brdecka

Along with Trnka, Jiri Brdecka (1917-1982) was one of the founders of Czech animation, who explored its potential as a serious art form as early as the 1940s. Even though he’s best-remembered and revered abroad for his short animated works as a director, Brdecka wrote many screenplays for others’ films, both animated and live action, including the remarkable and immensely popular Western parody Lemonade Joe (1964), based on his eponymous novel. He penned original ideas, scripts, and dialogues for renowned directors such as Martin Fric (The Emperor’s Baker – The Baker’s Emperor), Oldrich Lipsky, Jiri Weiss, Karel Zeman (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen), Vojtech Jasny (Cassandra Cat), and Vera Chytilova (The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun, based on his book of the same name). But his longest-lasting collaboration was with Jiri Trnka, having co-written four of Trnka’s animated shorts and three of his feature-length puppet animated films. This program is a companion to the complete Trnka retrospective, held in homage to their creative partnership and close friendship.

Program organized by Limonadovy Joe s.r.o. in partnership with Czech Centres. Films courtesy of the Czech National Film Archive, Kratky Film Praha a.s., and Rembrandt Films. Thanks to Irena Kovarova/Comeback Company.

Listen to Film Society Editorial Director Michael Koresky discusses The Puppet Master: The Complete Jiri Trnka with programmers Florence Almozini and Irena Kovarova below or on iTunes.