Scriptwriter, director, dramatist and writer. He was awarded the State Prize for Literature in 2005. His books have been published in several languages, including German and Dutch. He was born on 21 May 1941 in Wiener Neustadt in Austria.
He spent his childhood in Břeclav. His father died and his mother was sent to a communist prison for smuggling, though she escaped and emigrated. Her son spent his childhood in a children’s home and with foster parents, and didn’t meet his mother again until 1968. Dutka studied screenwriting and dramaturgy at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts, in 1974 he began working in animation at the Jiří Trnka Studio and the Bratři v triku Studio, where he worked until 1990. He lectures at FAMU and has been a professor since 2005.
He has written scripts for more than fifty animation films. His first script was the short fairy-story, Strašení čmeláků (Haunting of the Bees, 1977), directed by Zdeněk Smetana, with whom he went on to make several more short films (Všehochlup, Konec krychle, Brundibáři). In 1979 he directed his own script of the dark tale, O Maryšce a vlčím hrádku (Maryška and Wolf Castle). He wrote the scripts for several other well-known animated films such as Werich’s Koloběžka I (The First Scooter, 1982), Andersen’s Křesadlo (The Tinderbox, 1985, both directed by Dagmar Doubková), for Klub odložených (The Club of the Laid Off, 1989) and Jiří Barta’s film, Na půdě aneb Kdo má dneska narozeniny? (Toys in the Attic, 2009). In 1980 Konec krychle was nominated for the Royal British Academy Award and won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He has worked on many TV cartoons and has worked as a dramaturge with, among others, Aurel Klimt’s Fimfárum.
His first literary works were short stories. In the 1960s he wrote the book U útulku 5 (At Shelter 5), which, however, was not to be published for another forty years (Prostor, 2003). The individual stories are linked by the child protagonist who dispassionately describes the stories from a children’s home. The lives of the residents are portrayed humorously and from a distance, which is made more powerful by the tragic lostness of the main character. “An outsider is speaking here who sees things immediately, instinctually and instinctively, like a wolf cub caught in a trap and adapting to the new conditions in his cage. The narration of the nine-year-old boy torn from his home after the arrest of his mother and ‘imprisoned’ in a reform school has an authentic feel, as though it was written at the moment and couldn’t have been written otherwise,” wrote Jiří Peňás in Lidové noviny.
Edgar Dutka’s second prose book was Slečno, ras přichází (The Knacker’s Coming, Miss, Prostor, 2004), which is narrated by a German shepherd bitch and which gathered great critical acclaim, winning the author the State Prize for Literature in 2005. The narrator describes her relationship towards people, though the central motif is her relationship towards freedom, which is symbolized by the Australian bush. In 1968 Dutka left for Australia to be with his mother, who enabled him to make the journey. Australia was also the inspiration for another of Dutka’s short-story collections, Záliv osamění & Zapomenuté australské povídky (Solitude Bay and Forgotten Australian Tales, Listen, 2007), which pays tribute to the Beatniks.
The short stories Staženi z kůže ze tmy vycházíme (We Emerge from Skinning the Darkness, Torst, 2007) return to the 1950s and describe the communist terror in realistic detail.
His short stories have been published in several short-story anthologies by the publishers Listen (Pánská jízda [Lads’ Trip], Povídky o mužích [Short Stories about Men], Schůzky s erotikou [Encounters with the Erotic]).
Dutka wrote the children’s book Dvanáct nejkrásnějších pohádek napadených skřítky Kazisvěty a mnou zachráněných (Twelve of the Most Beautiful Fairy Tales, Mladá fronta, 2009), where he ostensibly sticks to traditional fairy tales, but where the negative characters are humorously portrayed as communist saboteur elves. Dutka wrote the screenplay for the film Na půdě (In the Loft) with Jiří Barta, which was published in book form in 2009 by Albatros.
Edgar Dutka has also written two university textbooks in a humorous tone – Minimum z dějin světové (The Minimum of World History, 2004) and České animace (Czech Animation, 2006), both published by AMU.