ADFF ONLINE 2022-2023

Building Bastille! The Tangled and Improbable story of the Opera Bastille

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Available February 8, 2023 5:00 PM UTC
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A half a billion dollar project, a crushing architectural challenge, an impossible deadline, two warring political titans, and a blind competition. What could go wrong?


The film is set in 1982 France when the new socialist President Mitterrand opens a blind competition to build an opera at the site of the notorious Bastille Prison. The jury selects the best design, a drawing that looks like the hand of prominent American architect Richard Meier but is a submission from an unknown and inexperienced Canadian architect Carlos Ott. 


Building Bastille! is a feature-length documentary that tells the comedic, dramatic, and tangled story of modern history’s most remarkable case of mistaken identity and seized opportunity. Drama ensues when right-wing Jacques Chirac is elected Prime Minister, and his hatred of Mitterrand causes him to place a stop work order on the Opera. But like all French politics, nothing is what it seems.



  • Year
    2021
  • Runtime
    76 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    Canada
  • Premiere
    US Premiere
  • Director
    Leif Kaldor