Beethoven composed only one opera in his lifetime, the grand and profoundly moving Fidelio. The 1805 opera tells the story of Leonore, the wife of the unjustly imprisoned Florestan, who has been slowly dying, spiritually and physically, in a dungeon run by the tyrant Pizzaro. Desperate to save Florestan, Leonore disguises herself as a young man named Fidelio and takes a job in the prison where Florestan is held. Fidelio is an opera about courage, heroism, love, and the struggle for justice in the face of despotism.
Beethoven’s operatic masterpiece is at the heart of my new documentary, Love & Justice: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Rebel Opera. But as in my previous film, Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony, I track the themes and influence of Beethoven’s work across time and space to tell a deeply contemporary story.
Love & Justice weaves together four stories with universal appeal: Leonore’s fight for justice; Beethoven’s own struggle with his impending total deafness as he creates the opera; the harrowing tale of a brilliant Chilean composer who, imprisoned under Pinochet, wrote his final work from his cell using only doused matchsticks and scraps of paper; and the passionate commitment of the composer’s granddaughter, a dancer, to bring love and justice to his memory through art.
We have already begun filming in Chile, finding the spirit of Beethoven in the streets and quiet spaces of Santiago and Valparaiso. Love & Justice takes a radical musical turn by having the renowned Chilean folk ensemble Inti-Ilimani perform the music for Fidelio. To add to the drama, we are filming scenes from our Chilean Fidelio in the very spaces where memories of tyranny are still contested—places where the legacy of the disappeared still echoes from prison walls. Love & Justice bridges centuries and cultures, giving dramatic form to Beethoven’s unforgettable call for hope even when there is no cause for optimism.
Love & Justice: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Rebel Opera is the second part of our trilogy Beethoven | Hero. The first film, Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony, has screened around the world, and a similar broad theatrical release is planned for Love & Justice.
Thank you very much for your support of Love & Justice, a film for our time, as we struggle to maintain the courage to change our world for the better.
Beethoven’s Fidelio is an opera about deep wounds, the despair and terror of isolation inflicted upon a man for his political beliefs. It is also an opera about our deepest affections, and the love shared between two individuals, Leonore and Florestan.
In Fidelio, Beethoven presents to us a picture of chastened hope, a sensibility required of us if we are to maintain our humanity amid the darkness—sometimes personal, sometimes political—that surrounds each of us at one time or another.
But some countries have more than their fair share of unnecessary suffering, places where people still mourn for those imprisoned or killed, their humiliated and tortured. Chile is one of those countries, where the terror of dictatorship still ripples into the hearts and minds of millions. In Chile’s northern Atacama desert today, women still look for the scattered bones of their murdered loved ones left there forty years ago. They sift through dirt and rock, archaeologists of the morbid, to find slivers of a body once whole, once real and alive to life.
My connection to Chile is both long and profound. I have studied deeply the U.S. support for the military coup in 1973 that toppled Chile’s democratically elected government. I followed closely the torture, imprisonment, and killing of thousands that followed. Often enough, these tales were told in the songs that groups like Inti-Ilimani offered to the world while in exile. I also found that the families of the Chilean desaparecidos used Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as a source of hope, and of resistance to the dictatorship. And when I traveled to Chile for Following the Ninth, I became friends with many Chileanos who taught me their sorrow songs, their songs of joy, and who shared their stories of love and justice.
This film is a partial payment on what these men and women have given me for free: an education in living that can never be fully repaid.
Video: Beethoven Biographer Jan Swafford on joy, love and justices in Fidelio and the Ninth Symphony.
Love & Justice: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Rebel Opera is the second part of a trilogy that goes under the banner of Beethoven | Hero.
Beethoven | Hero is a continuing exploration of the man, his music, and his extraordinary reach across time and space. The trilogy takes us on a journey through history and around the world, telling stories of the enduring power of Beethoven’s creations—of the ways they live within us and transcend the boundaries that separate us.
The legacy of Beethoven—in our personal lives and in the public conflicts, tragedies and occasional triumphs that define our times—is complex, and Beethoven | Hero explores this complexity. The first part of the trilogy, Following the Ninth (2013), followed the music to China, Chile, Germany and Japan. The second part, Love & Justice, takes us to Chile once more, using Beethoven’s Fidelio to explore the darkness of political repression and the way Chileans tried to sustain hope in the shadow of Pinochet. The third part, Last Will & Testament, will follow in the footsteps of Beethoven’s powerful Late Quartets.
While I do believe that Beethoven’s music somehow captures universal virtues—the courageous and passionate will to overcome all defeats, spiritual and physical—I am also open to the fact that I am living within the mythos of Beethoven the Hero. His image, both biographical and musical, continues to pull us toward the man and his creations. We puzzle over the man, and we embrace the music in an attempt, always incomplete, to understand who we are as humans, in pain, in love, in joy, in accents both spiritual and sensual at equal turns.
At a time when art and music are disappearing from school curricula, we are designing the Beethoven | Hero trilogy to be used in schools across the country to improve students’ understanding of the arts and of the historical contexts in which they are created and experienced. Beethoven | Hero tells the story of how art—emerging from the collision of history and flawed, brilliant humanity—outlives its creator to challenge, inspire and occasionally transform us.
Click below to visit us at BeethovenHero.com.
Following the Ninth is a documentary film—funded with the help of Kickstarter friends—about the global impact of Beethoven’s final Symphony. The film, released in mid-2013, has screened in over 250 cities in the United States and around the globe, with more to come.
Written in 1824, near the end of Beethoven's life, the Ninth Symphony was composed by a man with little to be thankful for. Sick, alienated from almost everyone, and completely deaf, Beethoven had never managed to find love, nor create the family he’d always wanted. And yet, despite this, he managed to create an anthem of joy that embraces the transcendence of beauty over suffering. Celebrated to this day for its ability to heal, repair, and bring people together across great divides, the Ninth has become an anthem of liberation and hope that has inspired many around the world:
• At Tiananmen Square in 1989, students played the Ninth over loudspeakers as the army came in to crush their struggle for freedom.
• In Chile, women living under the Pinochet dictatorship sang the Ninth at torture prisons, where men inside took hope when they heard their voices.
• As the Berlin Wall came down in December 1989, it collapsed to Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s Ninth as an “Ode To Freedom.”
• In Japan each December, the Ninth is performed hundreds of times, often with 10,000 people in the chorus. Following the Ninth gives us insight into the heightened importance of this massive communal Ninth, known as “Daiku,” in the aftermath of the earthquake and Tsunami of 2011.
Directed and produced by Kerry Candaele—who previously produced Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices, Iraq for Sale, and the documentary A League of Their Own—Following the Ninth traces these stories, intertwining them with the history of the Ninth itself to create a moving ode to hope, freedom, and the power of art.
Video: Kerry Candaele's Ted Talk
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"A majestic documentary ... That rarest of films: A documentary as ineffable and transformative as it sets out to be." – The Village Voice
"Following the Ninth is beautiful and powerful." – Bill Moyers
"Thrilling, smartly assembled and gracefully paced." – The New York Times
"Brilliant filmmaking." – The Santa Barbara Independent
"Following the Ninth is a deeply moving and inspiring achievement." – Daniel Stewart, Music Director, Santa Cruz Symphony
"Following the Ninth is an inspiring film showing the power that music can bring to people, not only experientially but intellectually, emotionally and socially." – Jennifer Weinstein, Executive Director, Southern Vermont Arts Center
Kerry Candaele, Director, Producer and Writer
Kerry Candaele was born in Vancouver, Canada, and grew up in Lompoc, a small town on California’s central coast.
He has produced and directed several documentaries. His producer credits include Follow the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices and Iraq for Sale for Brave New Films. He has also collaborated with his brother on the documentary, A League of Their Own, about their mother’s experience in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This documentary was later turned into a blockbuster hit by Columbia Pictures with the same title starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis. Kerry has also made films for the Raiford Rogers Dance Company of Los Angeles, the Festival of Sacred Music (UCLA), and other organizations.
The first part of Kerry’s Beethoven | Hero trilogy was Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Final Symphony, which followed the impact of the Ninth across the globe. The film premiered in 2013 and has won critical acclaim while showing in more than 250 cities across the U.S. and around the world. Kerry attended Columbia University, where he was a Richard Hofstadter Fellow and President’s Fellow in U.S. History. Earlier, he studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and California State University, Chico. He has worked all over the world—including China, East Timor, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, Gaza, and the West Bank—for the Democracy Council (DemocracyCouncil.org), an NGO dedicated to peaceful reform in developing nations.
The most recent of Kerry’s three books is Journeys With Beethoven: Following the Ninth and Beyond, co-authored with journalist Greg Mitchell. He has also written extensively about U.S. history, and has published articles and opinion pieces in scholarly and popular publications including USA Today, Symphony Magazine, Irish America Magazine, The Nation, and The Huffington Post. Having made music a passionate hobby, he has written and released two CDs, Gas Money and Icarus Descending, for Battle Hymns Records, and has produced a CD for Western Beat, a collection of Los Angeles-based singer-songwriters.
Kerry lives in Venice, California, with his wife and three daughters.
Pamela Gunther, Producer
Pam has been active in research, project coordination and community development on a wide range of local and international social-justice initiatives. For nearly seven years, she has served as the co-chair of a Global Justice Committee in Santa Barbara, California. Under her leadership, the committee most recently built a preschool in Rwanda, and has given the school ongoing support with educational materials and more.
A longtime vocational counselor for the State of California, Pam has written and lectured on trauma and vicarious trauma, and she is the founder and co-organizer of the annual Mayor’s Awards recognizing business and community leaders in disability access. An adjunct faculty member at two colleges, she has also served on the Tri-County United Nations Board.
Pam is a member of the International Documentary Association and the Executive Producer of Just Choice Productions. She is working on a documentary about the committed men behind Middle East peace-building projects, and the many challenges they face. Pam is a lifelong opera enthusiast and student of classical ballet. She holds an M.S. Degree from Western Oregon University and lives in Santa Barbara, California.
"As a lifelong supporter of the arts and human rights, I can't help thinking that Love & Justice is part of a natural progression for me—a thing that, in some way, was meant to be.
My love affair with Beethoven, his opera Fidelio and the stories detailed in this film, have touched a deep passion, making this work some of the most inspired and poignant of my life.
Indeed, the journey has been life changing. I've forged lifelong bonds with new friends at home and in Chile and have gained new perspective on the way that art and music have shaped my own life.
It was only recently that I became aware of my own story and its reflection in this film. Like Maria Belen, who we see keeping her grandfather’s memory alive through dance, I've come to realize that I, too, am keeping my father’s memory alive through my involvement with this film.
I have wonderful, vivid memories of my childhood, spending time with my father, listening to his extensive library of classical music records. These are memories I treasure, not only for their ability to bring me back to my father, but for nourishing in me a deep love and admiration for moving stories and powerful works of art.
And this brings me back to Love & Justice. The film is truly a reflection of my deepest passions and of the person I am and have become. It means the world to me to bring this project to life and share these stories with my friends."
Greg Blake Miller, Writer and Story Producer
After serving as story producer for Following the Ninth, Greg continues his work with the Beethoven | Hero team. He has written extensively about film and culture, particularly Russian culture, culminating with Reentry Shock (2010), the story of how a group of post-Stalin Soviet filmmakers dug deep into cultural and personal memory to create art that transcended ideology. Greg is a former staff writer for Russia’s Moscow Times and has also worked at Mosfilm Studios. He was named Nevada’s Outstanding Journalist for his work at Vegas Seven magazine, where he served as Editor from 2010-2014, and he received Parenting Publications of America’s top national honors for his feature and humor writing at OC Family.
Greg holds a doctorate in International Communication from the University of Oregon—where he also taught writing and media studies—and a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington. In addition, he earned a masters degree in creative writing from the University of Southern California, where he won the prestigious Moses Fiction Prize. Greg’s most recent publication is the collection Decemberlands (2015), illustrated by his wife, Svetlana Larionova Miller. Greg is currently the director of Olympian Creative Education; he and Svetlana live in Henderson, Nevada, with their son, two cats, and a glamorous border collie/beagle.
Chris Bottoms, Director of Photography
Chris Bottoms has several decades of film and video production experience in New York, Los Angeles and across the globe. After attending The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Chris has shot numerous feature films, commercials, music videos and documentaries, and trained under the legendary cinematographers Matt Mahurin, Crescenzo Notarile, and Matthew LeBatique. He is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild.
Risks and challenges
Documentary films are often difficult to produce, and Love & Justice is no exception. But we are confident that our film will be delivered successfully, on time, and within our budget.
1. We have already raised funds from outside investors and have completed about half of the film.
2. Our director and team have decades of combined experience working in many tough parts of the world—including China, East Timor, Rwanda, Guatemala, the West Bank and Gaza—with a lengthy track record for finished films and other difficult projects.
3. Director Kerry Candaele—whose films include Following the Ninth, which was partially funded by Kickstarter—has directed several films from start to finish. All contributors who donated to Following the Ninth via Kickstarter received their rewards.
4. More importantly, we have a realistic budget for production, based on previous documentary films. If we can reach our target goal amount, we are confident that we can bring this film to completion by December 2016 or sooner.
5. Finally, everyone involved with Love & Justice is deeply committed to getting the film to a wide audience. We believe the film can make a small difference in people's lives. Our own love for justice will keep us going until we are convinced the film is worthy of attention across the country and around the world.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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