Love & Justice: Germany Premiere of Beethoven Documentary Film & Talk with Canadian Filmmaker in Bonn


Ten years ago, Kerry Candaele set out on a journey around the globe to understand the enduring legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven and his music. He will tell us about this journey in a Deep Talk this Saturday at 6 PM at the new cultural encounter space in Bonn’s city center.

Candaele will also introduce his latest documentary film, “Love & Justice: In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Rebel Opera”, which will celebrate its Europe/Germany premiere the following day at the REX Movie Theater in Bonn-Endenich.

María Belén Espinosa Peña and Kerry Candaele on the film set (Photo: Kerry Candaele)

The Canadian filmmaker and author, who was born in Vancouver and grew up in California, produced and directed several documentaries, including “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” and “Iraq For Sale”. He 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 the 1992 Hollywood movie with the same title starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, and Geena Davis.

Chilean musicians performing Beethoven’s rescue opera Fidelio (Photo: Kerry Candaele)

His latest film is about Beethoven’s sole opera Fidelio, the second part of a three-part documentary series that Candaele likes to introduce with film excerpts in his talk, followed by a discussion. Candaele will also be in attendance for a Q&A in the Sunday matinee screening of Love & Justice (87 min, OV with German subtitles).

Released in 2023, “Love & Justice” follows Candaele to Valparaiso, Chile. Here, the narrative of “Fidelio” resonates deeply with the story of the Butoh dancer María Belén Espinosa Peña and her murdered grandfather, the composer Jorge Peña Hen. Butoh is a Japanese contemporary dance form that emerged in the late 1950s. Ankoku Butoh means literally “dance of darkness”.

The film brings together Beethoven’s own search for love and justice and the harrowing yet inspiring tales of those impacted by Chile’s 1973 coup and the years of political and cultural repression that followed under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Chile – 50 years after the coup

On September 11th 1973, the democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende was overthrown by a military coup. Almost five decades later, Kerry Candaele travels to Chile to make a film about Beethoven’s rescue opera Fidelio, which is a musical cry for freedom and justice. 

Disguised as a man, Leonore saves her husband Florestan from prison (Photo: Kerry Candaele)

The opera is about the political prisoner Florestan, who is unjustly held in a dungeon, but is eventually rescued from death by his wife Leonore, disguised as a prison guard.

Candaele’s swirling, poetic, and deeply musical narrative documentary weaves together the operatic masterpiece with the parallel story of the imprisoned Florestan and the murdered Chilean composer, conductor and music educator Jorge Peña Hen.

Chilean composer and conductor Jorge Peña Hen (Photo courtesy of Battlecry Production)

Based in the coastal town La Serena in Northern Chile, he was the founder of the first children’s symphony orchestra in Latin America.

After the coup, Hen was arrested on trumped up charges of having participated in the aquisition of weapons and hiding them in instrument cases. He was executed on October 16, 1973 by the infamous “Caravan of Death”, a Chilean army death quad.

The film follows his surviving family, Hen’s Butoh dancer granddaughter who intends to resurrect him in her art, and the staging of Fidelio with young musicians and singers, and the renowned folk ensemble Napalé. What one reviewer calls “a fascinating and beautiful work”, is staged on “prison hill” in an abandoned horse barn. Love & Justice is magical, painful, but ultimately humane and hopeful. A film for our troubled times. 

Deep Talk – Meet the Canadian Documentary Filmmaker Kerry Candaele, hosted by Bonnections Initiative
Saturday, February 17, 2024, at 6 pm
Vacancy as Encounter Space, Brüdergasse 4, 53111 Bon

Premiere of the Beethoven Documentary Film “Love & Justice”
Sunday, February 18, 2024, at 11 am
REX Movie Theater, Frongasse 9, 53121 Bonn


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