Jan Němec's original proposal in 1966 to adapt Kafka's Metamorphosis as a theatrical feature was rejected by the Czech state film board. In 1974, he was forced into exile -- first seeking refuge in Germany:
CER: What impact did emigration from Czechoslovakia have on you personally and professionally?
JN: I have never emigrated. I was an exile. There is a very big difference. An emigrant is somebody who decides to leave the country, while an exile is chased away, like J A Komenský. In 1974, they wanted to put me in prison, but they gave me a choice, as with Milan Kundera. We were told that the criminal prosecution would be canceled if we applied for a legal departure motivated not by political protest but by a working contract.
I took this offer and left the country legally, so I had a Czech passport for another two years. But it was not like traveling. I couldn't come back. If I had, they would have seized my passport and began the criminal prosecution all over again, and I would be in prison. After two years they stripped me of my citizenship. So I have never emigrated and I have never applied for political asylum. I was "stateless," with no citizenship or no legal papers.