Romanian Film Festival Seattle: 7th Edition [Online]
Nov. 13–22, 2020
** Q&As associated with each screening will be live at specific times, described on each event listing, and will be included in the event playlist after they are recorded; please plan your festival experience accordingly. **
THE ROMANIAN FILM FESTIVAL, 7TH EDITION:
One Eye Laughing, One Eye Crying: Resilient Together
The 7th edition of the Romanian Film Festival will be like no other. Our amazing story of the past six years will adopt a new creative format, responding to our vital need to stay connected through arts, film, and meaningful discussions. We invite you to watch, from the comfort of your homes, inspiring stories of resilience and solidarity; to imagine the world after the pandemic, and explore new possibilities for social change. We will offer you virtual opportunities to interact with local, national, and international special guests.
All film programs in the 2020 festival will take place online between Nov. 13–22, and are available to view only in the U.S. The majority of films will feature a filmmaker Q&A; while the films themselves will be available to watch at any time during the festival, Q&As will go live at specific times scheduled throughout fest week. These times are announced on each individual listing. After a Q&A is live, it will be automatically added to the film program for the remainder of the festival.
** On Nov. 15 at 11:00am PST, the festival presents a Zoom discussion about Malmkrog with film critic Monica Filimon, author of Cristi Puiu: Ineffable Experiences of the Profane World. **
(Cristi Puiu, Romania, Serbia, Switzerland, Sweden, Bosnia Herzegovina & Macedonia, 2020, 201 min)
Cristi Puiu’s most recent film is a three-in-one project: it is an adaptation of Vladimir Solovyov’s Three Conversations, a period drama beautifully recreating the turn of the twentieth century, and a philosophical symposium. Divided into 6 parts—one for each protagonist—this study of the well-mannered, yet intellectually fierce and, at times, condescending, theoretical debates, present a “slice of life” that froze in its eternal futility.
Only years before WWI, in an aristocratic manor somewhere in Transylvania, the wealthy businessman Edouard, the landowner Nikolai, the young and naïve Olga, the mature and ironic Madeleine, Ingrida—the wife of a Russian general—and the butler Istvan exchange ideas on war and peace, good and evil, religion, identity, and politics.
Malmkrog is a grand feast for the eye as it is for the mind: the abundance of visual details is matched by the dialogue packed with hard concepts. Winner of the Encounters Award for the Best Director at Berlin Film Festival, Cristi Puiu declared that his film is “prophetic.”
Acasă, My Home
** Zoom Q&A with director Radu Ciorniciuc and UiPath Foundation Executive Director Raluca Negulescu-Balaci on Nov. 14 at 11:00am PST! **
(Radu Ciorniciuc, Romania & Germany, 2020, 86 min)
As it records the life of a family with nine children, who live in a shack in the Delta Văcăresti in Bucharest with neither electricity nor running water, this documentary raises questions about nature and civilization, individual freedom and society rules, happiness, and standards of living.
Radu Ciorniciuc’s debut documentary received several international awards, among which were the Special Prize of the Jury at the Saloniki Film Festival, the Special Jury Award for Cinematography at Sundance, the Human Rights Award at Sarajevo, and the Golden Horn at Krakow.
A Shelter Among the Clouds
** Zoom discussion with festival organizers on Nov. 22 at 5:00pm PST! **
(Robert Budina, Albania, 2018, 83 min)
Set in the mountains of Albania, the story of Besnik, a goat shepherd who takes care of a sick father, unfolds in pace with the life of the reclusive village. Besnik’s accidental discovery of an old Roman Catholic fresco in the currently functional Mosque becomes an emblematic event both for himself and his village. Inspired by the real history of a church which has changed hands several times between Christians and Muslims for almost 600 years, the film delicately explores the relationships in interfaith families, the tension between an individual’s faith and freedom, and religious tolerance, which in the end the village embraces.
Internationally acclaimed, A Shelter Among the Clouds won the Global Vision Award at San Jose, the Best Balkan Film prize at Prishtina, and the Cinema of Small Nations prize at Valletta.
** Zoom Q&A with director Marius Olteanu on Nov. 14 at 9:00pm PST! **
(Marius Olteanu, Romania, 2019, 116 min)
An unusual love story, Olteanu’s debut feature film presents one day that leads to the breakup of a long-married couple. Reversing old clichés, the two protagonists—Dana and her husband, Artur—acknowledge the difficulty of letting one another go, despite the fact that they both admit that there is no love between them, but only camaraderie. This film is an honest appraisal of the complex ties that keep couples together.
Monsters received twenty nominations and several prizes for best feature film at international film festivals in Romania, Bulgaria, and India, the best screenplay at Berlin and Herceg Novi, and Judith State was awarded Best Actress in a Leading Role at Gopo Awards, Romania.
** Live Discussion with film critic Monica Filimon on Nov. 15 at 7:30pm PST! **
(Radu Jude, Romania, 2020, 128 min)
Mugur Călinescu, a high school student in a provincial city, writes graffiti messages about food shortages and a lack of freedom. He is caught, and his family, neighbors, and friends all are subjected to intimidation and interrogation to break any form of resistance.
Radu Jude’s film combines archival footage from Romania’s infamous secret police, old TV clips, and a cinematic recreation of Gianina Cărbunariu’s “documentary play” by the same title. Camera, like in Jude’s other films, is not simply a recording device, but a conscious witness that adds its own point of view to the story.
Uppercase Print is inspired by a real event from 1981, and was nominated for the Best Feature Film award at IndieLisboa Independent Film festival in Portugal and at the Transilvania International Film Festival.
The Soviet Garden
** Zoom Q&A with director Dargoș Turea on Nov. 15 at 9:00pm PST! **
(Dragoș Turea, Moldova & Romania, 2019, 76 min)
The connection between the mysterious death of the director’s grandmother and the history of the Soviet experiments in atomic gardening demands the unveiling of the Soviet agriculture policies and their health and ecological consequences. Initially encouraged, later threatened, Moldovan scientists had to engineer seeds to produce bigger crops.
Combining archival footage with first-hand witnesses’ accounts, the film feels more like a mystery than a documentary. Appreciated by film critics and the public at large, the documentary was nominated at the Astra Film Festival Award in Sibiu and at the Sarajevo Film Competition.
Otto the Barbarian
** Zoom Q&A with director Ruxandra Ghițescu on Nov. 20 at 9:00pm PST! **
(Ruxandra Ghițescu, Romania, 2020, 110 min)
Ruxandra Ghițescu’s debut film follows Otto, a teen-aged boy, as he wanders in the wake of his girlfriend Laura’s suicide, struggling to cope. Sincere and psychologically accurate, the emotional register of Otto’s grief ranges broadly from sadness, to love, and to happiness.
Impeccably acted by Adrian and Marc Titieni – a real-life father and son playing the same onscreen – Ioana Flora as Laura’s mother, and Ioana Bugarin as Laura, this emotional coming-of-age story had its world premiere only a couple of months earlier at the Sarajevo Film Festival, but has already received exceptional critical acclaim.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
** Zoom discussion with festival organizers on Nov. 22 at 11:00am PST! **
(Anca Damian, France, 2019, 92 min)
Marona is a little dog who, after surviving a car accident, recalls all of her masters whom she loved unconditionally. Beautifully told and colorfully drawn, this animation presents ordinary episodes in a pet’s life from the pet’s point of view, imagining, or rather revealing, what animals go through in a world controlled by humans.
Selected at numerous festivals, Marona’s Fantastic Tale won Best Animated Feature at the Bucheon International Animation Film Festival, the Dublin Film Critics’ Special Jury Prize, the Audience Award at Gijon, and the Grand Prize at the Tokyo Anime Awards.
So, What's Freedom?
** Zoom Q&A with director Andrei Zincă on Nov. 21 at 7:30pm PST! **
(Andrei Zincă, Romania & US, 2020, 133 min)
So, What’s Freedom? is an adaptation of Ana Blandiana’s short story Past Projects. Inspired by true events, the film recreates the drama of a handful of people out of the 40,000 innocents who were deported to the huge fields of Bărăgan, a sort of no man’s land of Romania in the 1950s.
A history teacher who puts his hopes in the change promised by communists, his intelligent wife who teaches French and dreams of going to Paris, a Hungarian Romanian, a German Romanian, the family of an Orthodox priest, and a former soldier have to build literally from ground up first a shack, then small adobe houses, in order to survive the harsh winters and hot summers. They trade their jewels for food and a few animals. Life goes on at a huge price but they never lose their dignity and that sets them free.
The minimalistic yet well-informed script, incredibly beautiful cinematography, excellent acting and subtle music do not provide answers to the question posed by the title of the film, but suggest that the question is more important than the answer.
** Zoom Q&A with director Alexandru Nanau on Nov. 21 at 9:00pm PST! Please note: viewers can only start watching this film Nov. 21–22. **
(Alexander Nanau, Romania & Luxembourg, 2019, 109 min)
In 2015, a fire at a Bucharest club killed 27 people in one night. Many more died in the following weeks because of the city’s inefficient and corrupt health system. As it connects the dots between the stories told by journalists, whistle-blowers, doctors, politicians, this film speaks to both the suffering and resilience of the Collective Club victims.
Collective has garnered an impressive list of awards, among which are Best International Film at DocAviv Israel, the Grand Jury Prize at the One World International Human Rights Documentary Festival in Prague, the Documentary Award in Luxembourg, the Grand Prix at La Roche-sur-Yon and the Ulysses Award for best documentary at Montpellier, France.
Gipsy Queen w/ Letter of Forgiveness
** Zoom Q&A with director/actress Alina Serban on Nov. 21 at 11:00am PST! Alina Serban stars in Gipsy Queen, and is the director of Letter of Forgiveness, the short film that plays with Gipsy Queen. **
(Hüseyin Tabak, Germany & Austria, 2019, 117 min)
The inspiring boxing story of Ali, a Roma single mother, follows her challenges both in Romania and in Germany. With the heart of a lioness, Ali is proud, doesn‘t complain, and works herself to the bone for her two children, Esmeralda and Mateo. She becomes a cleaner in Hamburg‘s famous Ritze underground club, where she soon starts training with the owner of the club, former boxer.
Recalling training with her father, she regains confidence in her boxing skills. Fully equipped and disappointed by life, Ali vents her fury on the punching bag as she hopes for a chance of a better life.
The German Screen Actors organization awarded Alina Serban the Best Leading Actress Award for her role as Ali, and Tobias Moretti received the Best Supporting Actor for his role as Tanne. Gipsy Queen won the Best Film Award at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, where Alina Serban also won the Best Actress Award.
Screens with: Letter of Forgiveness
(Alina Serban, Romania, 2020, 15 min)
In 1855, in the household of a wealthy Romanian noblewoman, a lavish dinner is being presented to important guests. As they arrive, Maria, a Roma-Gipsy slave, is making preparations, and sees an opportunity to change her and her son Dinca’s fates.
Maria and Dinca’s story is true; they helped change the course of Romanian history, hastening the abolition of slavery. This film is part of a future full-length project.
The American Romanian Cultural Society (ARCS) is a nonprofit association striving to promote a better understanding of the rich culture of Central and Eastern Europe, with an emphasis on Romania and the American Romanian cultural heritage in the Seattle area. Our signature event is the Romanian Film Festival in Seattle – ordinarily hosted at SIFF Cinema Uptown – every year in November, since 2014.