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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Romania / Bulgaria / Serbia

Ana-Maria Comănescu poised to start production on her first feature, Horia

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- The coming-of-age road movie centres on the adventures of a teenager who runs away from home

Ana-Maria Comănescu poised to start production on her first feature, Horia
A promo image for Horia (© Maria Anghel)

One thing that can be said about Romanian cinema is that it seldom favours teenage protagonists, which may very well be one of the reasons why young moviegoers, in turn, seldom favour Romanian features. Director Ana-Maria Comănescu has the chance to remedy the situation with her first feature, Horia, which will start production on 29 June. The project is being produced by Carla Fotea and Ada Solomon through microFILM (Romania), and co-produced by Rossitsa Valkanova through Klas Film (Bulgaria) and Nikolina Zecevic-Vucetic through Biberche Productions (Serbia).

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The screenplay, written by Comănescu, follows the titular Horia, a cautious teenager living in a Romanian village, who is pining for his crush who lives on the other side of the country. After a fight with his father, Horia leaves home on his dad’s motorbike and, soon after, meets street-smart 13-year-old Stela, who is running away from her family. She may be younger than Horia, but she is definitely more adept at living in the moment and adapting to circumstance. And soon, their trip will turn into a full-on adventure that will put their bond to the test.

The €800,000 project received a €135,000 grant from the Romanian National Film Center. Both the Bulgarian and Serbian National Film Centers supported the project. Tudor Mircea is the DoP. The shoot will take place between 29 June and 3 August in multiple locations in the county of Dobrogea and around the city of Braşov. First-time, non-professional actors Vladimir Ţeca and Angelina Pavel play the main characters, while Liviu Cheloiu, Daniela Nane, Mihaela Velicu and Robert Onofrei play supporting roles.

After stressing to Cineuropa that she loves “working with emerging directors” and “the challenge of approaching different types of cinematic storytelling each time”, producer Ada Solomon summarises two of Horia's unique selling points: “I am in love with my country, and I am glad we will be showing some of the most beautiful parts of it in the film. And another important hook for me is the music – some of it original and some already existent – that will accompany the journey of our character,” the producer says.

We asked Ana-Maria Comănescu if her first feature has a social message, and her answer only served to remind us that uplifting teen movies are almost non-existent in the Romanian film industry: “The film is concerned less with how to end social injustice or educational scarcity, and more with how to achieve a form of spiritual freedom in spite of those, which is basically the main theme. I applaud the many filmmakers turning our gaze to the enormous, bleak problems we face these days, but I also feel like there’s a burning need to feel hope and even joy, and it shouldn’t be neglected or considered trivial. My wish is for this film to genuinely uplift viewers and soothe their minds, even if only for a moment,” the director explains.

Horia will be released domestically next year by microMULTILATERAL.

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