One of the most acknowledged Czech directors and scriptwriters, born 04.09.1934 in Prague, Czech Republic. Studied at the College of Applied Arts in Prague and later in the Department of Puppetry at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. Worked as an artist for several theatres in Prague. His first puppet
short was The Last Trick (1964), followed by Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasia G-moll (1965, Special Mention at the Cannes IFF) – which is now amongst JŠ most famous films.
1973-1979 JŠ gained a reputation for his experiments and his ability to make surreal, nightmarish and yet somehow funny pictures. He has exhibited his drawings, collages and tactile sculptures, since 1969 JŠ is a full member of the Prague Surrealist Group.
In 1980’s he made a row of horror films - The Fall of the House of Usher (1980), Down to the Cellar (1983), The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope (1983), a.o. With the film Dimensions of Dialogue (1982) his style reached its apotheosis, the film received a number of international awards, yet was prohibited for screening in Czechoslovakia.
In 1987 JŠ completed his first full-length feature film Alice – a spine-chilling version of Lewis Caroll’s novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
In 2000, Jan Švankmajer’s distinctive adaptation of a folk fairy-tale Greedyguts was premiered. A script, written 30 years ago and based on two Edgar Poe’s novels, made its screen appearance in 2005 as the film Lunacy. In 2008, JŠ completed a full-length feature Surviving Life (Theory and Practice).