Romanian Days - Romanian Choices By Marilena Iliesiu

in 4th Cluj Transsilvania International Film Festival

by Marilena Iliesiu

A film festival is, temporarily, the equivalent of Malraux’s imaginary museum: on an imaginary screen the film of the moment is shown. The panoramic view of contemporary cinema, assembled by the TIFF team, included nine feature films and nine short films from Romania: visions and attitudes regarding the present, the past and the future, linear or stratified narrations, created with economical means or opulent explosions of symbols and metaphors .

Looking into the past

For the Romanian film-maker, the past is a fertile soil from which he can extract themes connected to the present. Goldfaden’s Legacy/Mostenirea Goldfaden (D: Radu Gabrea) is the story of a man who, in the 19 th century, opened the first professional Jewish theater in a Romanian town. Pioneer of the theatre and guard of Yiddish traditions and values, Goldfaden has become today an artistic hero in a culture which abolishes borders, which tries to incorporate patterns in experiments and which is a form of expression for minorities.

In The Children of Decree / Nascuti la comanda: Decreteii, the director, Florin Iepan works with symbols from the mythology of the communist era: Ceausescu, the dictator, is destroyed by the ones who were born as a result of a decree which forbad abortion. The film is a story about communism and its victims, about power and docility, about the humble and the winners. The hero of the documentary The One, The Only, The Real Tarzan/Unicul, adevaratul Tarzan, by the same Florin Iepan, also comes from 20 th -century mythology, but from the world of cinema.

Part of the present

Cristi Puiu, the director of the film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu/Moartea domnului Lazarescu, creates a story about the corporal, about decay, about the passing from a deteriorated and ill organic state to the inorganic, to the state of the object of medical investigations. Even the name of the hero has its roots in the biblical. Through a minimalist story, a road movie, an individual experience, contemporary Romanian society, is X-rayed, a social diagnosis is pronounced, alienation cancer is installed. The winner of the “Un certain regard” section, Cristi Puiu, was pampered at TIFF, receiving a total of five awards.

The destiny of a sole character is also the central idea of Ryna , directed by Ruxandra Zenide. Ryna is the story of a teenage rebel, engaged in a constant fight against society, parents, the community and even with her own physical limits. Romanian film-makers seem to prefer cinematographic portraits of characters who cross different worlds, each of them unique in their way. This is the case of Italian Girls/Italiencele , by Napoleon Helmis, or The Curse of the Hedgehog/ Blestemul ariciului, by Dumitru Budrala, in which the community is seen as one. The camera rests for long periods on the faces of these excluded people, who are in a constant battle for survival and acceptance, but also for the continuity of their own traditions and beliefs.

In Fix alert, the director, Florin Piersic Jr., decomposes and recomposes each of the character’s actions. He rearranges them into a puzzle, which, temporarily, seems to be the only real solution, but, after only a few sequences, is given a new part in a new combination.

Short films have also positioned the character as a central theme: Bucharest-Berlin is the story of two young Romanian girls in search of a new life in Berlin; A Lineman’s Cabin positions two characters in a less than ordinary situation; Fanatic analyses the reactions of a dedicated soccer fan; Fried Chicken presents the one-day adventure of a young gourmand cook, and Challenge Day sketches with humor the day a former athlete who refuses to practice sport.

The TIFF section, Romanian Days, resumes the ironical and analytical visions and beliefs of Romanian film-makers regarding the world they live in. Also cinema is seen as a sort of lens which, when brought near society, discovers its structure, its skeleton, and when expanded, acts like a telescope and shows its cosmic greatness.