It was worth it- to show the communist party that they are not right
Milena Jelinek was born on August 19, 1935, in Prestice next to Pilsen. Her maiden name was Tobolova, her father was of Austrian-Polish origin, her mother’s ancestors were Czech nationalists. They had an enterprise in Prestice in the First Czechoslovak Republic- pila, it was later znarodnena. MIlena started to study languages at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University, but in 1955 she switched to FAMU, where she studies screenwriting. In 1957 a movie based on her script “Easy life” was shot at Barrandov. It received mixed reviews, notably due to the fact that the depiction of student’s life was deemed to decadent for contemporary norms. On the premiere of the film, Milena met her future husband Frederick Jelinek, a Czech-Jewish emigrant, who was on a short visit in Prague. Between 1956-1960 Milena participated in various student activities, that criticized the regime and and requested abolition of totalitarian government of the one party. She could not finish FAMU because of it, nor find work, and she was labelled as a person harmful for the state in an article by the president Novotny. In 1961, after acquiring permission of travel to USA, she emigrated into the USA, she married Frederick Jelinek and had two children with him- William and Sarah Jelinek. In 1970-80, she created short films as part of underground cinema, that were screened on independent film festivals. She wrote script based on a book by Jakub Deml- Forgotten light which was shot in 1996 in Czech Republic. In 1991 she received “The Fulbright Scholarship” and spent a year in Czechoslovakia researching older Czechoslovak film. She wrote a play about Adina Mandlova.Currently, she lives in Manhattan in New York,where she for almost forty years teaches at the film department of the University of Columbia.