Milos Stehlik, CFCA member, Facets Multimedia founder, dies at the age of 70


It is impossible to understate the importance of Milos Stehlik on Chicago’s film community and its influence throughout the world. The Czechoslovakian-born Stehlik passed away on July 6 at his home in Lincoln Park. Having lived in the city since the early 1960s, along with stage director Nicole Dreiska (whom he later married for a time), he established Facets Multimedia in 1975, first in a church with projectors placed where the choir once stood, and eventually in a permanent home on Fullerton Avenue, where it continues to thrive today.

From there, he brought in films from all over the world to screen for audiences who yearned for something different and is even credited as the man who first exposed Roger Ebert to one of his favorite movies, Errol Morris’s groundbreaking “Gates of Heaven.” In addition to the theater, Facets would also establish a home video business that would evolve from videocassettes to DVDs to streaming and embraced everything from established classics to bizarre obscurities that would stump even the hardiest cineastes. Facets would also cultivate new generations of film fans through an annual summer film camp for children as well as an annual children’s film festival. He could also be heard discussing film as a contributor to the “Worldview” show on WBEZ-FM. Even when suffering from the effects of the Stage 4 lung cancer that had been diagnosed last January, he did not let that pain affect his love of film. His last public appearance was in May at a master class fundraiser headed by Werner Herzog, one of the many great filmmakers whom he helped expose to a wider audience. At a time when film culture at a whole seems as if it is on the ropes, a trip to Facets can feel like a cinema buff’s dream come true. Stehlik may be gone but his dream will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.

The Chicago Film Critics Association joins cineastes worldwide in expressing our sorrow and in expressing our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

James Laczkowski