Romanian Days spotlights new names
by Boyd van Hoeij
09/06/2009 - The traditional Romanian-film showcase Romanian Days of the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) in Cluj-Napoca, consisted this year of seven feature films, with five titles culled from Berlin, Venice and Cannes. But the awards went to below-the-radar films of first-time filmmakers.
TIFF, which came to an end yesterday, awarded its Best Romanian Feature title to Andrei Gruzsniczki’s feature debut The Other Irina, which looks at a grieving man’s quest to understand what happened to his wife, Irina, in Egypt (see news).
With its bleached look, elliptical storytelling, true-story hook and contemporary setting, the film is decidedly different than the current crop of so-called Romanian New Wave films. Besides a work-in-progress screening at Thessaloniki and a preview at the Bergamo Film Meeting in March, the film has yet to find a major festival launch pad. International sales are handled by Libra Film.
The Best Debut mention went to the documentary Constantin and Elena from young director Andrei Dascalescu. The film follows his grandparents, who are still very much in love, as they go about their business in the Romanian countryside.
Sweet, low-key and insightful if narratively somewhat shapeless, the film endeared both local and international viewers at TIFF. Besides a slot at IDFA, where it won the First Appearance Award, it hasn’t travelled much either. Swiss company First Hand Films is the documentary’s sales agent.
Two titles from Cannes, Corneliu Porumboiu’s Police, Adjective [trailer, film focus] (see news) and the portmanteau film Tales from the Golden Age [trailer] (see news), written by Cristian Mungiu, were the two most high-profile titles of the Romanian Days.
Porumboiu’s film, his second, was also part of the regular TIFF competition for first and second films, where it netted the top prize. Tales was shown in two 90-minute parts that included all the six tales (rather than five selected shorts shown in Cannes as one film), mirroring the future Romanian release pattern. The film won a special mention from the Romanian Days jury.
The Romanian selection was rounded out by Hooked [trailer, film focus], which premiered at Venice; The Happiest Girl in the World [trailer], which premiered at Berlin; and Katalin Varga [trailer, film focus] which won a Silver Bear in Berlin.