Jiří Lehovec

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Born January 3, 1909(1909-01-03)
Prague, Austria-Hungary
Died December 11, 1995(1995-12-11) (aged 86)
Prague, Czech Republic

Documentary filmmaker, director and photographer. Jiří Lehovec is considered one of the founders of Czech documentary film, and has been called a "poet of the everyday."

Born 1909 in Prague. Since childhood he was interested in technology, photography and film. Attended high school [reálné gymnázium] in Vinohrady, Prague. After completion of four semesters of electrical engineering at the Technical University in Brno (1927-29) he moved to Prague to study history of art and aesthetics at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University.

As a student he began writing criticism and reviews for the Student Magazine (1927) and got involved in the avant-garde groups and circles such as Devětsil, Filmklub, the Left Front, the Czech amateur photography club and SVU Mánes. He had a film column in Národní osvobození (1930). Eventually he quit writing in c1932.

In 1930, Lehovec began collaborating with Alexandr Hackenschmied and Ladislav Emil Berka, himself focusing on social photography. His photographs were first presented at two exhibitions in Prague, New Czech Photography [Nová česká fotografie] (1930, 1931).

After graduation, he worked as a cultural correspondent in Paris.

In the late 1930s, Lehoved moved from photography to film. Already in 1935 he created a scenic film for E.F. Burian's theatre performance May (second version of the film was made by Čeněk Zahradníček the following year). During military service he worked as cameraman in the Military Technical Institute (1935–38); director of the cultural department of AB Barrandov (1938–40); briefly led his own company for film commercials and promotional films (1940); and eventually went to the Baťa studios in Zlín (1940-44). Between 1944–45 he worked at Barrandov as assistant director to feature films (Skalní plemeno and Rozina Sebranec). Later he was artistic collaborator on costume comedy Miroslav Cikán, Alena (1947). Lehovec was also founder and chief-director (1945–49) of Short Film Prague.

From 1949 until his pension, Lehovec worked in Czechoslovak State Film company, briefly as a feature film director (1949–51) and later as a documentary filmmaker and director of film and television short documentaries, educational and promotional films. His documentary films were mainly dealing with ordinary and everyday things, captured and shown in new, unusual and original ways.[5]

In 1958 he received Grand Award at Expo Brussels.

Between 1965–83 and 1990–95 he taught documentary film at FAMU, Prague, where he also received the titles Docent (1969) and Professor (1980).[6]



Divotvorné oko (The Thaumaturgic Eye)[edit]

Jiří Lehovec, 10 min, 35 mm, 275 m, b&w, 1939, in Czech. Download (WEBM)

Dir. and script: Jiří Lehovec. Camera: Václav Hanuš. Sound: František Šindelář. Voice: Karel Beníška. Effects: František Jakubec. Producer: Karel Kohout. Produced by AB.

A film poem, a microscopic study of mechanic phenomena of the everyday. By today's standards the magnification may seem fairly run-of-the-mill, but it takes little to imagine the effect a spider's head or a dissolving sugar cube would have had on viewers of the time when blown up to cinema-screen size.

Rytmus (Rhythm)[edit]

Jiří Lehovec, 13 min, 375 m, b&w, 1941, in Czech. Download (WEBM)

Music: E.F. Burian and Jiří Sternwald. Camera: Pavel Hrdlička and Jindřich Brichta. Dance: Matasová, Muellerová, Škramlíková, Víchová. Effects: Ladislav Zástěra. Architect: František Troester. Editor: Josef Dobřichovský.

An attempt at visual representation of music. The film escaped censorship during the Nazi protectorate by positioning itself as an instructional work.[7]


Feature films
  • Zachráněné štěstí, short, 1943.
  • Nevšední podívaná, short, 1944.
  • with Jiří Weiss, Přiznání, 1950.
  • Mykoin PH 510, 1963.
Documentary and short films
  • Máj, 1935.
  • Kamenná sláva, 1938.
  • Zajatý hlas, 1939.
  • Divotvorné oko, 1939.
  • Miliony na dlažbách, 1939.
  • Rytmus, 1941.
  • Usměvavá práce, 1942. [8]
  • Každý na své místo, 1943.
  • Hudební jaro, 1952.
  • Co si kdo uvaří, 1954.
  • Barevný svět Otakara Nejedlého, 1954.
  • Příběh staré řeky, 1956.
  • Praha, matka měst, 1958.
  • Zlatý sen, 1959.
  • Jiří Trnka, 1969.
  • Její první film, 1973.
  • Nejskromnější umění, 1974.
  • Kouzelná svítilna, 1975.

See also[edit]



  • Antonín Navrátil, Jiří Lehovec, Prague: Čs. filmový ústav, 1984, 36 pp. [9] (Czech)