Make Sure the Film Is Not Sad

Interview with Olga Špátová, director of Eye Over Prague...

Before making the film, essential events such as the standstill of the construction project of the National Library or the very death of Jan Kaplický could be hardly expected. What was the original theme of the film?

I started shooting in the spring of 2007 when Jan Kaplický won the competition for the National Library in Prague. I wanted to follow the construction of the beautiful blob with my camera while discovering the personality as well as the creative credo of the renowned architect who came to Prague to offer his skills. I knew that was not enough since a documentary film must have a dramatic composition. However, that seems like a blasphemy to me now. Two months later, the original, plain concept turned into a dramatic public debate of citizens, experts and politicians, with conflicting human qualities such as creativity and enthusiasm on one hand as opposed to aggressiveness, falsehood, envy and maliciousness on the other hand clashing on the social, civil as well as political levels. I didn’t suspect the drama to have a tragic ending. Four months before his death, Kaplický told me: “Olinka, make sure the film is not sad.” Although the last scene does not show Jan standing in front of the finished library, I still believe the film ending to be hopeful. Crowds of people filling Staroměstské square to pay their tribute to Jan while his daughter Johanka is born…

Today, there is no Blob but the infamous Blanka tunnel at the Letná Plain. What does it indicate? How can one come to terms with that?

It indicates the values of our political representation. No modern architecture; no cultural book centre to show respect for an educated nation; but a tunnel for cars drilled through Prague. The then Prague mayor Pavel Bém says in the film about Jan Kaplický: “Municipal representatives are telling me they have different obligations; rather than building libraries, their priority is to build roads, tunnels and subway stations”.

Do you think the Blob will be built in the end? Why?

I believe Jan’s blob will be built at Letná one day; as a thank you to his art and courage. It will happen as soon as we, citizens, contribute to our political representatives being cultured people rather than pragmatists whose horizon stretches from power to money and back.

Do you think the phenomenon of the Kaplický Library project is a general or rather a specifically Czech one?

I don’t think it is a Czech phenomenon; though it does look Czech if envy and arrogance were typically Czech characteristics. However, I would rather say that we do not deserve the niveau of our political representation. Jan Kaplický, too, was shocked when he returned to his native Prague after forty years of living in British democracy. He came at an unlucky time though when arrogant and unenlightened people ruled the Prague castle and the Prague town hall. To us, his story is a warning; a raised finger challenging us to follow our truth and not be indifferent to injustice.

What is your next project?

Currently, I am fully engaged in making the film The Greatest Wish 3 and I am happy about it. I have taken up the two films made by my father, director Jan Špáta, in 1964 and in 1989. The films deal with the values and dreams of young people. My father has mapped the two preceding generations at the historical turning points of our country. I started making part three of The Greatest Wish on November 17, 2009, i.e. exactly twenty years after my father’s death. The film protagonists are people from various social backgrounds and professional environments. The film is telling the stories of people focused on their goals as well as those who ended up in a hopeless situation in their young days. They are the first adult generation born after the Velvet Revolution which has formed in the free society. They have lived in different conditions and with different possibilities. Representing a climax of the trilogy about the desires and dreams of people at the beginning of their life path, The Greatest Wish 3 will enter theatrical distribution in the spring of 2012.


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