David Vondráček & Roman Šantúr
Czech Republik, 2018
Original version with English subtitles
Famous Romani singer Věra Bílá prepares for a spectacular rock comeback, when a shocking event interrupts rehearsals shortly before starting her tour in Norway.
At the turn of the millennium, Věra Bílá used to be the most famous singer from Czechia in the world. She performed to a sold out audience in Olympia, Paris. She sang for the American President Bill Clinton in the White House. For the album called Rom Pop, recorded with Rokycany’s band Kale, Věra won ‘The Album of the Year’ in the category ‘World Music’ in France.
The last occasion to see her live on stage was ten years ago. After that she began to focus on the slot machines in Rokycany instead of singing in the Royal Opera in Madrid and Carnegie Hall in New York. With the deaths of her son and husband, Věra began to drown in depression, and due to financial problems that followed, she was forced to live in social housing. Two years ago she recieved an offer to sing with the band called ‘Džino Rom-Rock’ who’s bandleader Dušan “Džino” Čonka wanted to combine Roma folklore and hard rock. After years of suffering, with this oportunity, she rediscovers meaning in her life : singing. After two years of hard work, Džino and Věra were slated to finally perform in public, but on the way to their concerts in Norway an unexpected and shocking event interrupted these plans…
In May 2019 the documentary film won Special Jury Recognition at Prix Circom, a competition of works from European regional public TV studios. Unfortunately Věra Bílá did not have the opportunity to celebrate this success with the filmmakers as she died just two months before, on 12th May 2019. She was 64 years old.
Roman Šantúr has been working in media both in Slovakia and the Czech Republic since 1993. He has been working and living with his family in Prague since 1999. Since 2002 he has been a cameraman and a director of journalism in Czech Television focusing on Czech Television journals and TV documentaries.
David Vondráček in 1963 in Marianske Lazne, Czechoslovakia, is a journalist, editor, screenwriter and director, who made his name within Czech TV with a series of film portraits between 2001 and 2008 – of Stanislav Drobný, Zdeněk Neubauer, Věra Bílá, Josef Masopust, Dana Němcová and Jan Sokol – and a spate of hard-hitting documentaries. Of the latter, Killing in the Czech Way, focusing on the forced deportation of Sudeten Germans from post-war Czechoslovakia, won for its director the Respekt prize for the best audiovisual work of 2010 and the Franz Werfel International Human Rights Prize. Filmed over a number of years, David Vondráček’s powerful award-winning documentary Love in Grave (2012) records the lives of Jan and Jana, a homeless couple who find refuge in a cemetery in the Prague borough of Strašnice.
Directors: David Vondráček & Roman Šantúr
Script: David Vondráček
Cinematography: Roman Šantúr
Sound: Milan Sýkora
Editing: Roman Šantúr
Production: Lenka Poláková, Czech Television
SUNDAY, 18:00, with additional video material about Věra Bílá