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A tragicomedy about a 16-year-old young man who encounters the hypocrisy of the adult world during his first job. Petr starts working behind the till in a small-town supermarket but his real task is to watch for potential shoplifters. At home, he is under pressure from his father and his girlfriend starts paying attention to someone else. Black Peter captures the essence of an ordinary summer in a small Czech town in the early sixties but also the feelings of arising rebellion among the youth in the Eastern bloc. Filmed in a cinéma vérité style, the camera buzzes around the characters played by non-professional actors. This amazing debut feature film about generational alienation is one of the key works of the Czechoslovak New Wave.
The film Loves of a Blonde (1965) earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Fireman’s Ball (1967) is his last film before moving to the US, where he directed classics such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), which won Oscars in the categories of Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress, followed by Hair (1979), Amadeus (1984, his second Oscar for direction), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), and others.