John Penner has been writing and editing for the L.A. Times for three decades. A graduate of Cal State Long Beach, he also attended USC’s Graduate School of Film and Television and studied playwriting in Edward Albee’s master class at the University of Houston. He has lived and worked as a freelance journalist in Prague, after Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution and coinciding with the election that resulted in the country splitting in two. Nowadays he is a copy editor on the Foreign and National Desk who writes occasionally about film, literature and theater.
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Over half a century in two countries, with vastly different cultures and filmmaking languages, Passer directed a steady series of much-admired and often underappreciated films of economy, fidelity, humor and subtle beauty, among them “Intimate Lighting,” “Cutter’s Way,” “Stalin,” “Haunted Summer” and “Born to Win.”
The great filmmaker Milos Forman never spoke about his defection. In fact, he never called it a defection.
The friendship between Czech New Wave pioneers Milos Forman and Ivan Passer was crucial in the life of the man who directed ‘Amadeus’ and ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’