Kumu Documentary: Building Bastille
Location: Kumu auditorium
Dir Leif Kaldor
Canada 2021, 76 min
In English and French, with English subtitles
Introduction by Margit Mutso
In 1982 the new French president François Mitterrand opens a blind competition to build an opera at the site of the notorious Bastille prison. The jury seems to have found the best design, by the prominent American architect Richard Meier. Or so they think.
Then the Minister of Culture blanches and stumbles through the name Carlos Ott, a Canadian. No one has heard of him and he has never built anything. Have they chosen the wrong guy?
Notified at the last moment, Carlos flies to Paris with an expired passport and is tossed into an airport holding cell for immediate deportment. Official panic ensues. Things get worse from there.
But like French politics, nothing is as it appears. When Jacques Chirac is elected Prime Minister, he hates François Mitterrand and works to stop the Opera project. When Carlos Ott receives Chirac’s stop work order, the money is cut off. It seems that all of the sacrifice is for naught.
Building Bastille is a feature length documentary that tells the comic, dramatic and tangled story of modern history’s greatest case of mistaken identity and seized opportunity.