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Personalities awarded for promoting Czech science, culture abroad

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Prague, May 23 (CTK) – Soprano Gabriela Benackova, film maker Ivan Passer, historian Vilem Precan and plastic surgeon Bohdan Pomahac were among the personalities whom the Prague branch of the expatriates’ Society of Arts and Sciences awarded for promoting Czech science and culture abroad yesterday.

The nine laureates awarded at the ceremony in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, also include painter Jiri Anderle, musician and music historian David Eben, organist and music professor Jan Hora, actor Stanislav Zindulka and chemist Josef Michl.

Benackova is the best-known performer of Jenufa, the main character of Leos Janacek’s opera, which she sang in more than 1,000 performances all over the world. She sang Rusalka, the water nymph, in the first production of Antonin Dvorak’s eponymous opera in the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Czech-U.S. film screenwriter and director Passer was a representative of the New Wave of Czechoslovak cinematography. Before emigrating from Czechoslovakia following its invasion by the Warsaw Pact troops in 1968, he shot the widely esteemed film Intimate Lighting. His U.S. films include Cutler’s Way and Stalin.

Precan worked in the Czechoslovak Science Academy’s Historical Institute until 1970. After leaving the country, he headed the Czechoslovak independent literature’s documentation centre in Germany. On his return home after the fall of the communist regime, he established the Institute of Contemporary History.

Pomahac led the surgical team accomplishing the first full face transplant in the USA.

The Society of Arts and Sciences is an international organisation supporting Czech and Slovak artists and scientists as well as students on study stays abroad. It was established by Czechoslovak expatriates in the USA in 1958. It has branches across the world.

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