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Respice Finem

DIR: Jan Špáta
1967 / Czech Republic / 15 min


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A refined film essay about the loneliness, wisdom and humility of old women. The film, most valued by Jan Špáta, was awarded the Grand Prize at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, the Trilobit Award and Special Mention at the IFF in Karlovy Vary.

Eighteen films by the master of Czech documentary filmmaking Jan Spata were digitally restored and transferred into HD format and are now available on 4 DVDs and a selection of five digitally restored films are also in theatrical distribution. More about Jan Spata and the project at www.janspata.cz.


Director Jan Špáta
Screenplay Jan Špáta
Dir. of Photography Jan Špáta
Editing Marie Křížková
Music Luboš Fišer
Sound Zbyněk Mader
Duration 15 min
Year 1967
Country Czech Republic
Colour Black & White
Tags classics, ethnic groups, philosophical, society
Production Krátký film
Krátký film
Address:  Kříženeckého nám. 1079/5b
City:  152 53 Praha 5
Country:  Czech Republic
Web:  www.kratkyfilm.cz/kontakt.html
Phone:  +420 267 091 110
Fax:  +420 267 091 500


Articles About the Film (2)

Jan Špáta

Jan Špáta, film director and cameraman, made a significant contribution to Czech documentary filmmaking between 1960 and 2000.

Through his hundred-plus works, he invigorated documentary filmmaking with a sense of drama, while his original directing ideas and his eye as a director of photography significantly enriched Czech culture. The best of his movies are timeless, as fresh now as they were when they were made. For these reasons, 18 of his most significant movies have been captured in HD quality and subsequently restored by an extensive team of experts that corrected the visual and audio elements. Now the message of his masterworks can reach today’s audiences as well as those of future generations.


Jan Špáta was born in Náchod, Czechoslovakia on October 25, 1932. In 1952 he graduated in photography from the Hellichova Graphic Design High School in Prague. In 1952-57 he studied camera at Prague’s Film Academy (FAMU). Beginning in 1957 he worked as a cameraman for newsreels, news reports, and documentaries at Krátký film Praha. He worked as a cameraman on the films of almost all documentarists of the time, the most significant of whom was Evald Schorm. This cooperation strongly influenced his desire to become an independent director. Even after directing his first film in 1964, THE GREATEST WISH, he continued to work as a cameraman. His first film, along with his second, RESPICE FINEM, took top awards at domestic and foreign festivals. In 1968, the ministry of culture awarded him for outstanding artistic contribution to modern documentary filmmaking. He began working for foreign companies in the 1960s, shooting travelogues on all continents. During his 41 year film career, he worked as a cameraman on hundreds of documentaries by many directors, both from his own generation and the one that followed, most often with his wife, director Olga Sommerová. During his 34 years as a director, he shot 107 writer-director movies, winning over 60 awards at domestic and foreign film festivals. In 1967 he taught camera at FAMU and Hochschule für Film und Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany. In 1991-2005 he lectured at the department of documentary filmmaking at FAMU, and in 2002 he was appointed professor there. In that same year he received a state decoration from President Václav Havel. He completed his career in 1998 with the two-part confessional film LOVE THAT I AM LEAVING BEHIND. After that, he wrote articles for the newspaper, a selection of which, BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARKNESS, was later compiled by Malá Skála publishing house. The same publishers put out a book-length interview, MOMENTS OF JOY, conducted by his student and publisher Martin Štoll. He is the father of two sons, Martin (1961-2001) and Jan (1963) and a daughter, Olga (1984); he also raised a stepson, Jakub (1976). In 1953 he married Blanka Beranová, then Olga Sommerová in 1981. Jan Špáta died in Prague on August 18, 2006.

Restoration of Jan Špáta's films

Jan Špáta's films (plus bonus material) have been released in an exclusive collection of four DVDs, a selection of which is currently screening in Czech theaters. Each film has been provided with English subtitles to facilitate viewing for audiences abroad.

Process of Restoration

Image restoration
Until now, the works of Jan Špáta, Czech documentary filmmaking legend, have not been available on video to the public (except for a limited selection on poor quality VHS). Dozens of technicians and experts worked for over a year and a half to transfer and restore the films. Certain corrections were able to be carried out automatically using special software, but others had to be done manually, frame by frame. The result was the most extensive film digitalization and restoration project in the Czech Republic.

After negotiations with Krátký film Praha and the National Film Archive, the organizers of the project decided on a new image transfer from backup materials – the intermediate positive (IMP), which is the first backup copy of the original negative. It was necessary to make some of the intermediate copies because they did not exist. All intermediate copies were first chemically cleaned at a laboratory and then captured at 2K and recorded on HDCAM SR. This particular technology was selected because it is suitable for digital cinema as well as for all other common uses (HD TV, Blu-Ray). 4K technology is still not as widespread and it exceeded the project’s financial possibilities. The organizers wanted to create new masters of a quality that would satisfy the needs of all common current distribution methods.

Despite using backup materials for the transfer, these also revealed a varying degree of wear and tear or mechanical damage. Then followed the complicated and demanding process of digital restoration, which in the end required far more time than had been anticipated. The sheer number of films on various materials accounted for the delays, as did the many different kinds of defects and damage that were discovered. The project organizers greatly appreciate UPP studio for their willingness to enter these untested waters.

Sound restoration
Because the intermediate positive preserves only the image component and a working soundtrack, the sound had to be transferred from a used film copy. The starting point for the sound would have been the original 35 mm magnetic tape master, but this was not preserved for any of the films, thus the sound had to be transferred from existing copies. These, however, were damaged and often incomplete. The entire soundtrack had to be remastered: hiss and crackling were removed and the sound was synchronized with the image. All films were shot in mono and have thus remained that way.

The project organizers’ intention was to preserve the films in the same quality in which they were shot, therefore they did not alter the films in any other way: they merely restored technical defects and flaws which arose during the process or through mechanical damage. Sound restoration was carried out at SOUNDSQUARE studio primarily under the direction of chief sound engineer Václav Flegl.


Eighteen films by the master of Czech documentary filmmaking, Jan Špáta – digitally restored and transferred to HD format – are now available on four DVDs under the title Jan Špáta – 18 documentaries by a legend of Czech film

This unique DVD collection will please film experts as well as those who already know and love Špáta’s distinctive documentaries. In addition, his films provide a unique look at Czechs, their spirit and character, thereby allowing deep self-reflection for anyone willing to ponder his or her place in the world.

The DVD collection is rounded out with several valuable bonuses, including a portrait of Jan Špáta from the GEN series (dir. by Olga Sommerová), a personal photo archive, and unique footage of Špáta shot by his father, among others.



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