Miroslav Ondříček, a leading member of the Czech New Wave and Oscar-nominated cinematographer behind the camera on Amadeus, Silkwood, and A League of Their Own, has died at age 80.
Born in Prague, in what was then Czechoslovakia, in 1934, Ondříček was a graduate of the Film Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He began his career in film shooting documentaries and newsreel footage, before joining the Barrandov Studios training school in the late 1950s. It was at Barrandov that Ondříček met director Miloš Forman, making his feature debut on Forman’s Konkurs (“Competition”).
The two became instrumental figures in the Czech New Wave and formed a working relationship that would endure for more than 30 years. When Forman emigrated to the United States after the 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Ondříček followed him. He would go on to man the camera for Forman on Hair, Ragtime, Amadeus, and Valmont.
Ondříček also worked with British director Lindsay Anderson on the seminal films If…. and O Lucky Man!, and director George Roy Hill on Slaughterhouse Five, The World According to Garp, and the Chevy Chase comedy Funny Farm. Among his other credits are Awakenings, F/X, and The Preacher’s Wife. He worked on over 40 films during his long career, retiring in 2001.
Highly respected, Ondříček never received an Academy Award, though he was nominated twice in Cinematography category, for Ragtime and Amadeus. He received a BAFTA for cinematography for his work on Amadeus, and in 2004, the American Society of Cinematographers honored him with the International Achievement Award.
He is survived by his son, Czech director David Ondříček.