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VISIONS DU RÉEL 2022 Compétition Burning Lights

Lucie Králová • Réalisatrice de Kapr Code

“Nous voulions être aussi sincères que possible, et trouver notre place dans cette histoire”


- La réalisatrice tchèque nous parle de son film, un opéra documentaire sur la vie de son compatriote le compositeur Jan Kapr

Lucie Králová • Réalisatrice de Kapr Code

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

At this year's edition of Visions du Réel, in the Burning Lights competition, Czech director Lucie Králová presents with Kapr Code [+lire aussi :
interview : Lucie Králová
fiche film
a very original way to tell about the life and art of musician and political figure Jan Kapr. We talked to her about her inspiration for the unusual documentary, the material at her disposal and her work method.

Why did you want to tell the story of Jan Kapr?
I didn't know him, I got to know about him by coincidence. A friend of mine told me about this flat in Prague where his legacy was being stored. It's Kapr's old flat, which was taken over by his daughter. She asked me to digitise his movies, and step by step, I got to know him. The movies are really fascinating because they look like small fiction sketches. Then I began to ask myself how I could talk about his life using a new perspective. I didn't want to do a historical film with a closed message. I wanted to ask what is still important today about Kapr. 

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What inspired you to use the form of an opera?
I knew I didn't want a classical approach to the topic. I didn't want to have “talking heads,” for example, telling what a nice and good man Kapr was, even though I talked with a lot of people who knew him. Most of them actually did talk about how good and nice he was. I decided to put this into the film through a composition called “Kapr was such a nice and joyful man.” But in the first place, I was inspired by Jiří Adámek, a Czech opera director. What he does is not classical opera, but new opera, which is growing in popularity. It uses opera principles to deal with contemporary issues and is able to attract a younger audience. I am not a particular fan of opera in itself, but I thought that this form could be a way to communicate the story.

How did you meet the choir?
This is another coincidence. They are one of the best in Europe, but I didn't know that before we met. The conductor of the choir is one of Kapr's students, which was fantastic, since he had a lot to share. He is an old man and at first, I was afraid that he might not like the newer, less conventional approach we had, but he was so enthusiastic. This is why I decided to also film behind the scenes, to show this. 

You give a lot of space to the rehearsals with the choir. Why was it important for you to show that, too?
It's important for me to show the process. It shows that the film is not something that is just done, delivered, but something that you have to elaborate. I also wanted to show our own creative process, how we dived into the material. We worked for a year together, connecting and trying to understand Kapr and what it means to be in the situation he was in. I wanted to invite the audience to be an active part in the process, to enable them to connect with the protagonist. 

Is the found footage you use only Kapr’s material, or did you include your own material?
95% is from Kapr's archive. It is footage directed by him. It was evident that he was giving instructions to his wife or mother-in-law. But we needed to add some context. What we added is also unique, not used before: some historical images about the Prague occupation, for example, or footage illustrating the 30s and the fascination of the time for sport and exercise related to nationalist ideas. This material was hidden, and I found it by coincidence while working on another film. 

How accessible is Kapr’s archive?
Many boxes stand in the corridor of his former flat. There really is a lot of material. Kapr was meticulous and took pictures of all his scores, for example, to preserve them for the future. The archive is waiting for elaboration. An institution is planning to make the archive accessible to the public. We hope the film is a starting point. 

How long was the research for the film?
In total, it took us five years, in which we discovered and began to describe the story. Very little material exists on Kapr. I found only one monograph. Together with the librettist, we then worked on the screenplay. The most important thing was to show the two types of transformations Kapr went through: his creative transformation, and his political one. He changed from a complete conformist to a complete dissident, and in music, he invented a process of coding and decoding that is fascinating. The film is, in a way, a process of decoding this legacy. We wanted to be as honest as possible and to find our own place in the story. 

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