A Documentary Opera featuring the contradictory life of progressive composer and prominent communist Jan Kapr (1914-88), Stalin award laureate, later banned in socialist Czechoslovakia. While Kapr’s life escalates towards pivotal moments, we follow opera songs reflecting these crucial life junctures, those establishing an artist’s fate. The film explores the nature of memory, and narration, using Kapr’s personal, never-before-seen amateur films manifesting his humor, inner struggles and desire to leave traces for eternity.
«I faced the question how to transfer Kapr’s story to the medium of film while keeping its complexity, ambivalence and strength, and still reflect the unknown “holes” or “blind spots” in memory. Do we have a right to interpret a person’s life, especially when there are so many contradictions?
For the cinematic transformation of Kapr’s dramatic life we chose the original genre of “documentary opera”, which helps us to show how deeply connected his personal and public life was with his music development. We work with the style and means of New Opera, a contemporary progressive musical genre usually focusing on current issues and addressing primarily younger and middle-aged audiences. This form enables us to expand the screenwriting and staging possibilities of a traditional biopic towards the specific experience of the sound universe of an ambivalent hero, who no longer lives but who is still “alive” thanks to his music, letters and many films. The storyline follows an archive-based “documentary libretto” which guides us through Kapr’s personal and creative transformation chronologically. It is structured similar to an opera into 7 acts, overture and finale. The main narrative is accompanied by “behind the scene” footage revealing the process of rehearsals, including the Choir Master and librettist’s comments to the singers which also concern Kapr’s life.» — Lucie Králová
CountryCzech Republic, Slovakia
Origin of archival materialsJan Kapr’s personal Archive / Magdalena Vyoralová PragaFilm/Jan Šikl Czech National Archive NFA Michal Bregant, Lukáš Hanzal Czech Radio (Český rozhlas) Studio Hamburg Enterprises/ Nord Deutsche Rundfunk
ScreenplayLibretto: Jiří Austerlitz / Adámek
ProducitionDOCUfilm Praha & Mindset Pictures | Co-production Česká televize, VIRUSfilm
Lucie Kralova is an acclaimed Czech film director, scriptwriter and lecturer at FAMU Prague. Her docs, often on 16mm film, were screened at many international film
festivals and received multiple awards Recently, she has finished her second feature documentary Kapr Code which was awarded Best Project at Avant Premiere/La Rochelle Pitch in Berlin 2020 and selected as WIP for Cinema du Reél Paris Doc Work in Progress 2021 during its development.