"Boogie": Imaginative Whirlpool By Marian Tutui

in 7th Cluj Transsilvania International Film Festival

by Marian Florian Tutui

Transilvania has a reputation to defend. Its image of a land of superstitions is mainly fictional as historically it proved to be mainly a rich province disputed by empires and later on a land of inter-ethnical coexistence between Romanians, Hungarians and Germans. Jules Verne imagined it in “The Castle of the Carpathians” (1892) as a place where the invention of cinema could amaze and terrify ignorant peasants. Indeed, Transilvania and one of its main towns Cluj-Napoca had an early contribution to cinema: Alexander Korda (1893-1956) is one of the famous filmmakers and producers who made films there. In Dracula (1992) Bram Stoker considered Transilvania “the center of some sort of imaginative whirlpool”.

More than one hundred years later we can still apply his description to the Romanian town of Cluj-Napoca, at least during the festival. Indeed, the festival has grown from a competition for debutants and directors with their second film into a more ambitious project. The honorary president Tudor Giurgiu and festival director Mihai Chirilov have preserved their good humor by advertising with teasers made by seven Romanian directors who adapt and pay homage to Ian Fleming’s James Bond for the 7th edition of Transyilvania International Film Festival (TIFF). Even if the main competition included only twelve films, sections such as “Supernova”, “Real Time”, “No Limits”, “Shadows” and “3X3” (both for short films), as well as focuses on Denmark, Russia, Hungary, Moldova, Roma and Romanian Days added other films up to 200 films from 30 countries. The festival also included “Let’s Go Digital!”, the 6th edition of a workshop for teenagers who are eager to make films.

But for the first time the main competition did not include a Romanian film although the five theatres hosted first nights for some Romanian feature and short films. Radu Muntean’s third long feature Boogie maybe can offer an explanation for that. After being selected in Cannes at the “Quinzaine des Réalisateurs”, Boogie has been eagerly expected by the Romanian audience. During a short vacation a young husband nicknamed Boogie (Dragos Bucur) tries to live again for one night together with his high school buddies the excitement of the bachelor’s life. The price for his escape is a quarrel with his wife (Anamaria Marinca), left alone with their infant, while the benefits are poor. The three men drink and spend the night with a prostitute but their old jokes cannot revive their friendship.

Although joyful in the beginning, the two old buddies have problems: one intends to change his job while the other does not seem to be very happy in Sweden with his lover and job. Boogie returns to his family in the morning and makes up with his wife. There is almost no plot while the topic is banal as well as the atmosphere. The events can take place almost everywhere and anytime. Only the fact that the three men are still obsessed with their job or social status reminds of Romania today. It is no more time to boogie and Bogart is also no more in fashion.

Radu Muntean made a film which has little to do with the previous typical Romanian topics tackled by young Romanian directors in the last years worldwide. The others still seem to wait for inspiration. Maybe Boogie can be considered a sign that the cinematic exoticism of Romania and other former communist countries is almost exhausted. Showing something else has been a disadvantage but also an advantage for East-European filmmakers. Soon most of them will have to mirror a society similar to the Western one. The festival in Cluj was able to defend Transilvania’s fame but the young Romanian directors will have also to defend their own recently gained reputation.