For the first time since it embarked on its journey to muster the cream of the crop of Romanian cinema and promote the values of European cinematography, the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) will also take place in a city other than Cluj-Napoca, which has been the hotspot of Romanian cinema over the past six years. This year, the festival will have two centers, since Sibiu will take seriously its role of reuniting local and international guests and movie afficionados.
“The idea took on a life of its own, it was floating in the air,” said Mihai Chirilov, the director of the festival. More than just being a Transylvanian city, it was natural to pay tribute to Sibiu and to the decision to appoint it European Cultural Capital in 2007, even though in terms of cinema infrastructure, Sibiu lags behind Cluj-Napoca, Chirilov added.
The city still offers a fair share of interesting locations, the only problem is that movies will have to commute from one city to another. In the Piata Mica (the Small Square), there will be open- air movie projections and a terrace which wil become the festival's meeting point. Although organizers would have preferred the two parts of the festival to take place one after the other, “time was against us,” Chirilov said. “TIFF is taking a risk – that of simultaneity – precisely because we are talking about very good movies and guests that all the international festivals are fighting for, which is why they cannot stay in Transylvania for so long.”
Apart from its status as European Cultural Capital, Sibiu also has another card up its sleeve: an exclusive concert by fanfara Ciocarlia, featuring Macedonian singer Esma Redzepova on June 6. “Given the cultural climate in Sibiu, I think the festival will make a solid impact. We are talking about the cinema, which is the most popular of the arts,” Chirilov said.
Days of Romanian Movie puts focus on novelty
Of the selection of movies included in the festival, Chirilov said there was no “red line,” just an increasing eagerness to bring titles which are representative of the current state of Romanian cinema and the same emphasis on originality and freshness of vision. “We are looking for challenge – thematic or stylistic – and not warm comfort,” said the critic, who added that in line with the progress made by the festival, the number of spectators would definitely increase.
One of the most prominent TIFF sections is the Days of the Romanian Movie, which summons up novelties in both feature-length and short local productions on the first three days of the festival in Sibiu and the last three in Cluj.
Arriving straight from Cannes will be 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days- – Memories From the Golden Age by Cristian Mungiu (in the official competition in Cannes) and California Dreamin' (unfinished) by late director Cristian Nemescu (in the Un Certain Regard competition). The Paper Will Be Blue by director Radu Muntean will also be screened. Furthermore, a package of short movies will have a substantial presence in this section of the festival.
Film fest opens with movies from Cannes factory
Director Nae Caranfil (better known for Filantropica) makes a comeback on Romanian screens with his movie The Rest Is Silence, based on a script that he started writing 18 years ago. The movie is “a love and hate story between the artist and the producer, between art and money – this concubinage that the director experiences every day,” according to Caranfil. It tells the story of the two dreamers who made the first ever Romanian feature movie, Independenta Romaniei, (Romania's Independence) released in 1911.
Another well-known Romanian director both nationally and internationally, Radu Gabrea, will present his production The Decapitated Rooster in the TIFF opening at La Cazarma in Sibiu. The movie is a co-production between Romania, Germany, Austria and Hungary about the coming of age of teenagers, linked to the destiny of the Szeckler community in Transilvania.
Gabrea's movie will be in prestigious company, such as I Really Hate My Job by British director Oliver Parker (whose credits include An Ideal Husband) starring Oana Pellea and Alexandra Maria Lara, which will be screened during the festival's opening in Sibiu's Small Square.
Parker, who will be attending the festival in person, is one among several prominent guests. The list also includes scriptwriter Jennifer Higgie, producers Andrew Higgie and Dominique Saville as well as Vibeke Windelow, producer of Lars von Trier's movies, British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg and a surprise actor who will receive the traditional TIFF accolade awarded to a prominent star for his or her entire contribution to world cinema.
As for the closing ceremony, most of the traditional prizes will be awarded in Cluj, while Sibiu will bring a substantial bonus – actress Ioana Bulca will receive an excellence prize for her performance in the movie The Rest Is Silence.