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Iulia Rugină • Director

"Not welcoming new voices sentences Romanian cinema to a premature ageing"


- KARLOVY VARY 2017: Cineuropa caught up with Iulia Rugină, who talks about the challenges of her third feature, Breaking News, being shown in competition at the Czech gathering

Iulia Rugină  • Director

Initially meant to be her first feature, Breaking News [+see also:
film review
interview: Iulia Rugină
film profile
 is now the third title in Romanian director Iulia Rugină’s filmography, after a development process that took an entire decade. Here, the director explains the reasons for her project’s long gestation period.

Cineuropa: It’s been almost ten years since we first heard about Breaking News. Why has it been such a long road to the international premiere?
Iulia Rugină: The project was developed over two years starting in 2007, but at that moment, we hadn’t received any financial support. Then it stayed on hold while I directed two independent features, Love Building [+see also:
film review
interview: Iulia Rugina
film profile
 and Another Love Building. In 2014, we went back to Breaking News, we re-wrote it, and then we received a grant the following year. Shooting started in the winter of 2015.

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You wrote the screenplay together with your regular writing partners Ana Agopian and Oana Răsuceanu. How did the story evolve over so many years?
The story changed drastically. The starting point remained the same as in 2007, but as we changed, the screenplay changed, too. I think it matured as we grew more experienced, but this is a process that is very difficult to acknowledge while it’s happening. The last significant change came during the tenth draft of the screenplay, at the beginning of 2015. We shot draft number 14. 

The first sequence in your film is one of the most elaborate in a recent Romanian production. What was the biggest challenge of making it, and how many people were involved in shooting it?
We decided to shoot in a single take, so every movement of the camera and every step taken by the actors had to be very precisely choreographed. The sequence ends with a ceiling falling, but we did not use special effects, only art direction elements. So if something didn’t work out, we had to start over. Dozens of extras were involved in the shooting, which also required fire engines, ambulances, smoke and dust. It took us approximately 15 tries for four complete takes, out of which we chose the one in the film.

Voica Oltean is one of the most promising young actresses introduced in new Romanian production. How did you find her?
We searched for her during the entire summer of 2015. Our casting director, Cătălin Dordea, put an enormous effort into finding Voica. She was 15 then, and this is her first role in a film. We became very close before the shoot, and our friendship survived it. She is my youngest friend. 

Many voices in the Romanian film industry are asking for a new cinema law. Do you think an update of the law is necessary? What is the most pressing issue that this new law should tackle?
A new law is not only necessary, but vital, as there are so many issues with the current law. From my point of view, the most harmful aspect is that youngsters are refused access to the financing system. It is extremely difficult to be a first-time director or a first-time producer in Romania. Young filmmakers are practically forced to make their first films independently if they want to start a career. I did it myself, and it is impossibly difficult. Not welcoming new voices and new styles sentences Romanian cinema to an undeserved, premature ageing.

Are you developing a new feature?
I am working on a documentary on the communist-era clubs. The project is at a very early development stage, and as it is my first documentary, it’s a new path for me, with many detours and so much to learn.

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