He was born on February 18, 1932 in Čáslav, Czechoslovakia, which was a town of a population which would fit into a single New York skyscraper. At the age of 10, he lost both parents who died in a concentration camp. He grew up in a children‛s home and a boarding school for survivors of World War II where he became friends with his younger schoolmate Václav Havel and was in charge of the room they shared. He wanted to study theater but only passed audition for screenwriting at FAMU.
He debuted as director with a story film called Konkurs (Audition, 1963). In the same year, his black comedy Černý Petr (Black Peter) premiered and won at the Locarno festival. His next films were Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of a Blonde, 1965) and Hoří, má panenko (The Firemen‛s Ball, 1967) in which he juxtaposed individual freedom with the rigidity of the society. This theme stayed with him for the rest of his life. The Firemen‛s Ball was selected for the main competition at the Cannes festival but the festival was canceled by the filmmakers as an expression of solidarity with protesting French students.
After the Soviet invasion of 1968, Miloš Forman moved to the USA where he stayed at the famous Chelsea hotel in New York. His American debut was Taking Off (1971), a feature film about parents searching for their rebelling children. Although the film won the Grand Prix at the Cannes festival, it didn’t appeal to the American audience. Forman realized that living in a foreign culture, he could no longer be his own screenwriter and started adapting books or making films based on real biographies in which he found his theme of the conflict of an individual against institutions.
After working on a sports documentary called Visions of Eight (1973), Forman adapted Kesey‛s novel entitled One Flew Over The Cuckoo‛s Nest (1975) about a criminal trying to evade imprisonment by feigning insanity. The film won five Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay) and at the Oscars ceremony, Miloš Forman was accompanied by his two sons, Petr and Matěj, who had been growing up with their mother, singer Věra Křesadlová, in Prague until then.
Forman subsequently shot a musical entitled Hair (1979), and a thriller called Ragtime (1981). In 1984, Forman came to Prague to shoot Amadeus, a duel of two musical composers. The picture won eight Oscars including Best Film and Best Director. Forman concluded the 1980s with a historical thriller entitled Valmont (1989) which was an adaptation of the same story as Stephen Frears’s Dangerous Liaisons which enjoyed a much better reception. Miloš Forman returned to the limelight in the late 1990s with the biopics entitled The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) and Man on the Moon (1999). The former won the Berlinale and the latter won the Berlinale’s best director award. Miloš Forman’s last film was Goya’s Ghosts (2006).
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