Mihai Chirilov, artistic director of the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF), guided Business Review through this year’s edition of the iconic Romanian film festival, and shared his highlights.
By Oana Vasiliu
Two Romanian movies in the International Competition
Andrei Cretulescu’s Charleston and Adina Pintilie’s Touch Me Not will have their Romanian premieres at TIFF and compete for the Transylvanian Trophy. Two flamboyant debuts, presented and awarded in prestigious festivals, they differ stylistically from the usual local fare. No Romanian movies were this cool (Charleston) or edgier (Touch Me Not).
Don’t rush to form a conclusion with this Danish movie that subverts expectation: it keep you on the edge of your seat, gripped with suspense, with a story about a single character who speaks nonstop on the phone and desperately tries to solve a bizarre case from a distance. Directed by Gustav Moller.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel
The unclassifiable Japanese director Sion Sono came to Cluj two years ago with a retrospective series, travelled around, heard all the Dracula stories, applied a Japanese filter, and returned to Transylvania last year to film this bloody saga of thirsty vampires coming from Cluj to Tokyo via a portal in the Turda salt mine. Delirious and extravagant.
French film diva Fanny Ardant returns to Romania to receive an award for her career, presenting not only her new film as director (Couch, starring Gerard Depardieu) but also one of her most challenging roles: a transsexual who reconciles with the son he left when opting for his sex change.
Two students cross Europe in an old Mercedes 303 in this romantic and epic road movie, inspired by Richard Linklater’s cult film, Before Sunrise. He’s a hitchhiker and she picks him up on the way to her lover in Portugal. Their conversations and clashes are pure delight, and the chemistry between the pair is fantastic. Directed by Hans Weingartner.
Have You Seen My Movie?
Cine-lovers will relish this unique film about movies where people go to the cinema. Clips of over 1,000 scenes from classic films – some well known, others less so – meet in this tour de force, perfectly welded together. It is not only the most appropriate homage to the seventh art, but also a nostalgic reminder of the magic of the movies. Directed by Paul Anton Smith.
A heavy metal band from a small Finnish village travel to a music festival in Norway on a journey littered with accidental deaths and other unorthodox events. By comparison, the promo shot they make using a CCTV camera which they must burgle a police station to recover seems fairly ordinary. Directed by Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren.
Maria by Callas
Forty years after the loss of the most famous opera singer of all time, director Tom Volf tells the story of Maria Callas in her own words: rare or unpublished archive materials, intimate letters, recorded conversations, and interviews. In an age of celebrity gossip and scandal, this “pure” autobiography is more than welcome.
Shockproof Film Festival
After last year’s TIFF, which showcased an erotic film festival in Helsinki, Viva Erotica, in 2018 a special guest is this Czech festival specialized in rare B movie projections. Highlights include a VHS projection of cult movie Trash Humpers, featuring four real live dumpsters.
Cristi Puiu returns to TIFF – after last year’s event hosted the Blu-ray presentation of Sieranevada – with the Blu-Ray edition of his third film, Aurora. The Aurora movie and book collection was launched this year at the Leipzig International Book Fair and contains not only a retouched version of the film, but also a few unique photos from it.
Other highlights: the incredible Castle weekend, a rich program of interactive games, creative workshops, and shows for children will run during the day, while at night the grounds of Banffy Castle in Bontida will host hotly anticipated screenings and ciné-concerts. On May 26 an aerial acrobatics show will open the screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s first credited film, The Pleasure Garden (1925), accompanied by Notes & Ties chamber ensemble. The weekend will conclude with the premiere of Tokyo Vampire Hotel, from Japanese director Sion Sono, which is inspired by local myths and was shot on location in Transylvania. Moreover, following the success of its first run last year, infiniTIFF – the section dedicated to new storytelling forms, including interactive and virtual reality – returns in a special space in Cluj Hub, where audiences can discover an exciting selection of VR, live cinema, and loop cinema experiences.
The cine-concert series are well worth a listen, while Samuel Liégeon’s brilliant improvisations will also accompany the screening of one of the best-known silent horror films, The Phantom of the Opera (1924). Rupert Julian’s classic adaptation of Gaston Leroux ’s eponymous novel about a series of horrible crimes committed in the name of love by an enigmatic figure living in the bowels of the Paris Opera House will be presented for the first time at TIFF with a live musical performance. Last but not least, one of the biggest films of the 1980s, Luc Besson’s Le grand bleu / The Big Blue (1988) returns to Romania 30 years after its premiere, on the largest screen, in Cluj’s Unirii Square, closing the 17th TIFF. The screening will take place on June 3 in the presence of star Jean-Marc Barr, and will be presented as a double feature with Lefteris Charistos’s spectacular Dolphin Man (2017), which tells the story of legendary diver Jacques Mayol, Besson’s inspiration for the film.