Building Bastille - The Improbable Story of the Paris Opera

A half a billion dollar project, a crushing architectural challenge and impossible deadline, two warring political titans and an architect who has never built anything.

What could go wrong? 

Feature Length Documentary

Building Bastille Festival Screenings:  
October 9th Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam  
October 16, 2021 ArchFilm Lund, Sweden 
21st October 2021  Milano Design Film Festival -
Feb 4, 2022  EYE FilmMuseum Amsterdam 
March 2022 LE FIFA Montreal 
May, 2022 International Art Film Festival, Israel

Czech Film and Architecture Festival, Prague, Czech Republic
BARQ Festival Barcelona, Spain – Opening Night Film -
PARI PIKULE - Zagreb Design, Art and Architecture Film Fesitval, Zagreb Croatia WINNER Most Inspirational Film
Jeunesse et Arts Plastiques -  Bruxelles
Icuna Film Festival Incunafilmfest 2022. Gijón, Asturias, Spain  
Seoul International Architecture Film Festival (SIAFF) – October 28, 2022
ADFF Festival, New York/Toronto/Vancouver/LA/Chicago/DC


In 1982 the new socialist French president 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 prominent American architect Richard Meier. Or so they thought.

Until the Minister of Culture blanches and stumbles through the name Carlos Ott, Canadian. No one has heard of him and he has never built anything.

Hastily informed, 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.

When right wing Jacques Chirac is elected Prime Minister, he hates socialist Mitterrand and works to stop the Opera. Carlos Ott receives Chirac`s stop work order with threats of prison, then the money is cut off. It seems all the sacrifice was for naught.

But like French politics, nothing is what it appears.

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, combining current footage with archival images, and original 16MM film.

Building Bastille is produced by Zoot Pictures Inc. in association with Knowledge Network, TVO, RDI, SRC and with the participation of the Canadian Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit. Produced with the participation of the Rogers Documentary Fund.

Building Bastille was developed in association with Knowledge Network,the Canadian Media Fund and Manitoba Film and Music

Distributed Worldwide by:   Ampersand

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