Born in 1949 in Prague (Czech Republic), Helena Treštíková has more than 60 films to her credit. She is a film director, documentary-maker and film professor. In 2007 she was Minister of Culture for just 16 days before she submitted her resignation. Her work focuses on personal stories that reflect social facts; her main interest is always human beings. Her documentaries have been shown at over 100 international festivals worldwide and have earned major awards, including the Prix Arte in 2008.
She studied at the School of Film and Television in Prague (FAMU), where she graduated in 1974. She started doing long film shoots with the series Marital Etudes, in which she applied her method of temporal observation to follow the lives of six couples and their families between 1980 and 1987. Twelve years later, in 1999, she took the project back up with the same characters and in 2005, presented the series of six full-length films Marital Etudes 20 Years Later. In 1991 she created the Film and Sociology Foundation, which seeks to provide a new view on contemporary society.
The breadth of her filming over two or three decades allows her to explore the ambiguity of the characters, moving in this way further away from the paradigm. Thus, over the years we see not only the changes in the characters, but also those of the director and the world around her. In 2008, her film René received the Award of the European Film Academy, and one year later she was awarded the MEDIA European Talent for Zazrak Miracle 35 Years Later, an extension of her acclaimed documentary Zázrak (Miracle), in which she followed a young woman’s pregnancy for months.
Treštíková captures what her nearly motionless camera sees, prompting the public to search out true reality, without any flagrant intervention on the director's part. Her way of filming is not journalism: it does not try to draw together dates and facts, but rather it seeks the essence of reality so that we can discover what is hidden from the human eye.