Ada Solomon • HiFilm Productions
Producers on the Move 2011 - Romania
- The initiator of Bucharest’s NexT Film Festival has been selected by the European Film Promotion to take part in the Producers on the Move 2011 initiative.
Ada Solomon set up HiFilm Productions in 2004 and since then she has produced award-winning shorts such as Radu Jude's A Tube with a Hat and Cristian Nemescu’s Marilena from P7, and first features such as Jude’s The Happiest Girl in the World and First of All, Felicia [+see also:
interview: Melissa de Raaf and Razvan …
film profile], written and directed by Razvan Radulescu and Melissa de Raaf. Solomon is also the initiator of the NexT Film Festival in Bucharest, dedicated to the memory of Cristian Nemescu and Andrei Toncu, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this April.
Cineuropa: What are the biggest challenges facing you as a producer in Romania right now?
Ada Solomon: The main – but not only – challenge in Romania is how to finance your project, how to put together the little money that’s available on the market. Nevertheless, another huge challenge is how to promote your film once it’s made, in order to sell it. And things become even more complicated, because we have no clue when the support sessions of the Romanian Film Center are scheduled, so almost nothing can really be planned well in advance as long as the main source of money doesn't have a clear timeline. Like now – we are at the beginning of July and the first session of support for the Romanian film fund for 2011 hasn't yet been announced. Will it be this month or in August? Hard to guess. That kind of incertitude is killing me. I would love to be able to elaborate a strategy for three to five years, I know what I want to do and I do develop projects but they just stay as dreams because there is no solid ground underneath.
What does it mean to you to be included among the Producers on the Move?
It's a very important recognition and I was very honored. It is also a great opportunity to get to meet people you’ve heard of, that you know by the films they’ve done, but you didn't have the opportunity previously to meet face to face. These kind of meetings fill you with positive energy and give you giving the strength to follow your dreams. At the same time, it’s very interesting to follow what's ‘cooking’ around Europe, which themes are in focus here and there. Same thing for our projects – presenting them to our colleagues "on the move" is a first test to see if they are able to catch their attention. I have discovered wonderful projects, a bunch of films that I can't wait to see on the big screen.
Although much-honoured at festivals, Romanian films are not very popular among the domestic audience. What is the solution?
This is not an easy task, firstly because Romanians are not going to the cinema as much any more and also because we have very few cinemas in the country and even fewer dedicated to art-house productions. It is not only that locals are not going to Romanian films, but that locals are not going to European films, no matter how good they are. As long as we do not develop an educational system in which cinema to be included, as long as our state bodies do not invest in this art at least as much as they are investing in theatre, for example, there is no way that people will come back to cinemas to see Romanian or European films.
Large exhibitors are not taking Romanian films in multiplexes, and even when they accept them, they screen them only for a very short period of time. So when cinemagoers hear (because word-of-mouth is still the best promotion tool) that there is something interesting to see and go to the cinema, the film in question has already been taken off the programme. The promotional budget for these kind of films is very limited as well, so it’s difficult to create a buzz in advance. We are trying to use local stars in our films to grab the public’s attention, we are making an effort to create an event out of every film that we release, but the problem won't be solved until we have places to screen our films for an enethusiastic public.
Another issue is the fact that there is no support for the digitalisation of cinemas – there are very few digital screens and they prefer to screen digital copies, so there is no space for "us" – the small producers – to access digital screens. Therefore, we still have the high costs of 35mm prints – I don't envy independent distributors around either.
You are currently producing Radu Jude's new film, Everybody in Our Family. Can you tell us a little about that?
It is a lovely project. A family story in which violence meets comedy, an action film in an apartment – but with a whole ‘bits-and-pieces’ setting, a bizarre bazaar, like the central characters' lives. Actually the film is a metaphor for war, a story about the origin of conflicts – the little flame that can turn into the destruction of an entire nation. But all this is viewed through a small family event, the way Radu Jude always talks about big things through a basic element of society, the family. Sometimes I think that Radu is like a biologist analysing the world we are living in through a microscope – the film is a beautiful co-operation with our Dutch partner, Circe Films.
In what ways does this project challenge you as a producer?
Production-wise, it’s not a very difficult film, but it was much more difficult logistically. The shooting takes place in a small environment, but the tension in the film is so high that it’s really hard to stay in there. It is a very difficult task for the director and actors from an emotional perspective – for me, it’s easier at this moment, the burden is on their shoulders.
For example, we have our six-year-old lead, Sofia Nicolaescu, and she is very intelligent and very brave. Radu was rehearsing a lot with her and explained the whole story of the script in detail. Everything went well up to the moment when the child had to face a scene of domestic violence. She already knew it from the script, but this was something that this lovely child had never seen around her and, even if it was clear to her that it was just a sequence from the script, she started to cry and was visibly scared. That was something we didn't expect at all – challenging, indeed.
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