Documentary uncovering the amazing story of a Czech who wrote some of his most beautiful music following deafness in the last decade of his life. Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884) was one of Europe’s first great 19th-century nationalist composers. In his native Bohemia – now part of today’s Czech Republic – he created the distinctive Czech style which won him the admiration of fellow composers Gustav Mahler, Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss.
Bohemia’s proud past, plus its beautiful scenery of gently rolling hills, dreamy and nostalgic in the mist, cheerful and vivacious in the sun, inspired much of Smetana’s music, not least the operas Dalibor, Libuše, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and, especially, The Bartered Bride.
But it was in his epic, six-part orchestral suite, Má Vlast – My Country in English – where he was at his brilliant best in depicting the legends, history and countryside of Bohemia. And yet he became totally deaf soon after writing Vltava, the cycle’s second and most frequently performed section. It’s the music of another popular movement, From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields, that this film takes its title.
It charts the tragic last decade of Smetana’s life when, despite deafness and personal turmoil, he wrote two colourful suites of Czech Dances, the exquisite operas The Kiss, The Secret and The Devil’s Wall, and the acclaimed string quartet From My Life….his life was the stuff of Hollywood.
Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been collecting plastic debris off one beach in Northern California for over ten years. Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art. The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas.
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Camera / Edit - Eric Slatkin
Producer - Tess Thackara