Central figure of the Czech New Wave. Jasny entered the acclaimed Prague film school (FAMU) in its inaugural year, worked in documentaries with early collaborator Karel Kachyna, and began turning out fiction features in the mid-1950s.
Jasny's first solo feature, "September Nights" (1957), is generally considered a seminal work of the New Wave, but it was his next film, "Desire" (1958), which propelled him into the international spotlight. "Desire" displayed a lyrical, poetic quality that found its greatest expression, three features later, in "Cassandra Cat" (1963).
An infectious mixture of children's' fairy tale and political satire, "Cat" whimsically chronicles the arrival in a small town of a magical cat, whose unshielded gaze turns people the color of their true character; thus lovers turn red, adulterers yellow, cheats and thieves grey, etc. The film won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes and remains the director's best known work in the West.
Just before the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, Jasny crafted another exceptional work, "All My Good Countrymen" (1968), a satirical take on life in a small town between 1945 and 1968. "Countrymen" won best director honors at Cannes in 1969 but also precipitated Jasny's departure from a now Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia. He made a beautifully orchestrated "farewell to my homeland," the 20-minute "Czech Rhapsody" (1969), before landing in the West. Jasny's subsequent films (including a 1975 adaptation of Heinrich Boll's "The Clown") have been more sporadic and less highly regarded than his earlier, Czech works.
Jasny taught film in Prague, Germany and Austria and, since 1984, has been lecturing at Columbia University in New York, where his old pupil, Milos Forman, is co-chairman of the film department.