Miloš Forman named honorary citizen

The director recently turned 85 and has earned a long list of awards

Film director Miloš Forman, who recently celebrated his 85th birthday, will become an honorary citizen of Prague. The Oscar-winning director has lived in the US since shortly after the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion.

Honorary citizens can use public transportation for free, and also can use their status to get into cultural and sporting events.

It is not Forman's first Czech award. In 1995 he earned the President's Medal for Merit in the First Degree, while Václav Havel was in office. In 1997 we got the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. He also took home an Honorary Award for Unique Contribution to Czech Film from the Czech Lions in 1998. In 2007 he got the Gratias Agit prize from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Before he left Czechoslovakia, his film Loves of a Blonde (1965) won the State Prize of Klement Gottwald.

These are in addition to his two Oscars for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984), and three Golden Globes for those films plus The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). His first English-language film Taking Off (1971) won a grand jury prize at Cannes. He has also won prizes at film festivals in Berlin, Locarno, Munich, Palm Springs, Tokyo, Lyon and Zurich, among other places. Other prizes he has earned include BAFTA, César and David di Donatello awards.

Honorary citizenship (čestná občanství) has been given out since 1920, and was formerly called honorary burghership (čestná měšťanství). In 1922, it was given to Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. During the communist era it was given mainly to politicians and visiting dignitaries.

After the Velvet Revolution, though, some people were stripped of the award including Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and former Czechoslovak leaders Klement Gottwald and Gustav Husák.

Since 1989 the award has been given to more than 40 people, mainly celebrities or people who made notable contributions to the city. Recipients include writer Josef Škovorecký, humanitarian Nicholas Winton and conductor Sir Charles Mackerras. Prominent Czechs have also earned the prize, including writer Jaroslav Folgar, art historian Anna Masaryková, writer Ivan Klima, conductor Jiří Bělohlávek humorist and playwright Zdeněk Svěrák, and Václav Havel, who was a writer in addition to being a politician.

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