Seven Romanian premieres will be hitting the national and international silver screens this autumn, covering a range of subjects, from well known local stories of the 20th century to contemporary comedies. What is surprising is the fact that almost half of the 20 Romanian premieres expected in 2014 are debuts or second features, with most of the films receiving support from the National Centre for Cinema.
By Oana Vasiliu
Director Dan Pita has managed to finish his movie Kyra Kyralina more than 20 years after first contemplating the project. The EUR 1.5 million result, which goes on show from September 5, is a baroque affair, which reconstructs the life of a 1920s dysfunctional family with impressive interiors, costumes (Oana Paunescu) and music (Adrian Enescu). Based loosely on the plot of the homonymous book by Panait Istrati, it is pitched as a set of interlocking narratives concerning a young gay man in a world that was somewhat more liberal sexually in the latter years of the Ottoman Empire. But the movie is in fact a family story seen through the eyes of the young man, focusing on two female characters. Kyra (Iulia Dumitru) is the libertine mother of Dragomir (Stefan Iancu as a youngster and Corneliu Ulici as an adult) and Kyralina (Iulia Cirstea), and attends exotic parties with foreigners in an effort to find her daughter a husband. She, however, is terrified of her own husband, Rotarul (Mircea Rusu), who beats both his wife and children. The story concentrates on the search for love and happiness in a world of fear, revenge and excess.
Cripta (The Crypt), released on September 12, is the second feature from Corneliu Gheorghiță. It stars French actor Serge Riaboukine, winner of the Bronze Leopard in Locarno for his turn in Peau d’homme cœur de bête (1999). The Romanian movie, which premiered at the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) in June, tells the story of Leduc, a French real estate developer, who is preparing Baile Herculane, an old Romanian thermal resort, for renovation. A Roman fresco in a crypt delays the project, so he tries to burn it down, but locks himself in a courtyard by mistake. He stays trapped for days, as the neighborhood is deserted. Leduc then tries communicating with the few remaining residents and degenerates from a civilized being to a beast.
Gheorghe Ifrim, Adrian Văncică and Mihai Călin play the main characters in Răzvan Săvescu’s new comedy, which also had its world premiere at TIFF this summer. America, venim! (America, here we come), which will be in cinemas from September 19, tells the story of five actors, a director, and a small child with a huge teddy bear, who are crossing the ocean from Targoviste to perform in New York. To make some extra money, the actors decide to start working with a local agent, a Romanian living in the US. The agent promises them a major tour, but nothing goes according to plan…
Gheorghe Andrei’s debut independent feature Planşa (It Takes Two to Fence) will premiere on September 27, telling the story of Alex (Silvian Valcu), a former fencing champion, who is returning to the sport as a coach. When Anda (Olimpia Melinte) signs up for classes, Alex becomes her trainer, but their professional relationship develops into something more. This comes to the attention of Mircea (Marian Adochitei), Anda’s boyfriend, who is a member of the same club. The tension mounts until Anda is forced to choose between fencing and Mircea.
Kiki Vasilescu is another independent director releasing his first feature film, Terapie pentru crima (Cuckoo with a Gun) this autumn, on October 3. The starting point for this black comedy was Luc Besson’s hit, Léon. “I was thinking what might happen to Matilde when she grew up, and I imagined her coming to Romania and taking a job, until one day she quits and becomes a hit woman. From that point I wrote the independent story of a young Romanian woman who wants to be a hit woman. She starts looking for a first contract but soon she moves into another hit man’s territory,” Vasilescu told the publication Film New Europe. The EUR 100,000 budget was covered by the director himself, and the film stars Claudia Pavel, Cătălin Ciurdar, Vlad Corbeanu, Robert Radoveanu and George Constantinescu.
Probably the most eagerly awaited premiere of this autumn is Q.E.D. (Quod Erat Demonstrandum), directed by Andrei Gruzsniczki and starring Ofelia Popii, Sorin Leoveanu and Florin Piersic Jr., which has garnered several international awards, such as the Rome Special Jury Prize and the Siberian Golden Taiga International Debut Film Festival’s top award. The black and white movie focuses on a mathematician’s decision to publish a paper in a magazine edited by an American university without asking permission from the communist authorities. This action triggers a chain of events that will change the lives of his friends. The movie will premiere in Romania on October 10.
Last but not least comes Poarta Alba, directed by Nicolae Margineanu, who continues the investigation of the communist era. He presents a feature about the concentration camp at Poarta Alba and the construction of the Danube-Black Sea canal. The plot follows three students (Cristian Bota, Sergiu Bucur and Madalina Craiu) caught while trying to cross the Danube, two of whom are sent to the notorious camp.