Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life

Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life is a 1993 British short comedy film written and directed by Peter Capaldi. It stars Richard E. Grant as Franz Kafka and co-stars Ken Stott. The title refers to the name of the writer Franz Kafka and the film It's a Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra, and the plot takes the concept of the two to absurd depths.

Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life
Directed byPeter Capaldi
Produced byRuth Kenley-Letts
Written byPeter Capaldi
StarringRichard E. Grant
Music byPhilip Appleby
CinematographySimon Maggs
Edited byNikki Clemens
  • BBC Scotland
  • The Scottish Film Production Fund
  • Conundrum Films
Release date
Running time
23 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The film features a rendition of "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" from the operetta Naughty Marietta.

In 1994, the short won a BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. The following year it tied for an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film with Trevor.


The great writer Franz Kafka is about to write his famous work, The Metamorphosis, but inspiration is lacking, and he suffers continual interruptions.


  • Richard E. GrantFranz Kafka
  • Crispin Letts – Gregor Samsa
  • Ken Stott – Woland the Knifeman
  • Elaine Collins – Miss Cicely
  • Phyllis Logan – Frau Bunofsky
  • Julie Cox – Party Girl
  • Jessie Doyle – Party Girl
  • Samantha Howarth – Party Girl
  • Justine Luxton – Party Girl
  • Laura Reiss – Party Girl
  • Thea Tait – Party Girl
  • Lucy Woodhouse – Party Girl


1993BAFTA Scotland AwardBest Short FilmPeter CapaldiWon[1]
Atlantic Film Festival AwardBest Live Action FilmPeter CapaldiWon[2]
Best Short FilmPeter CapaldiWon[2]
Best Set DesignJohn BeardWon[2]
1994Angers European First Film Festival Audience AwardShort FilmPeter CapaldiWon[3]
BAFTA Film AwardBest Short FilmPeter Capaldi, Ruth Kenley-LettsWon[4]
Celtic Media Festival AwardBest New DirectorPeter CapaldiWon[2]
Vevey International Funny Film Festival AwardPrix Schwartz Best Short FilmPeter CapaldiWon[2]
1995Academy AwardLive Action Short FilmPeter Capaldi, Ruth Kenley-LettsWon[5]


  1. "Latin for a dark room". The Herald. 22 March 1994. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  2. "FRANZ KAFKA'S IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  3. "Premiers Plans Festival d'Angers" (PDF). Premiers Plans. 1994. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  4. Kenley-Letts, Ruth (1993). "Franz Kafka's "It's a Wonderful Life" (1993)". New York Times. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  5. "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AMPAS. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
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