It was a very good year for Romania, with a record number of films selected and awarded in Cannes and new European additions to the Cinema Law approved at the end of 2016. New initiatives have been launched under the ministers of Culture Vlad Alexandrescu and Corina Șuteu, and the new minister of Culture, Ionuț Vulpescu, who was re-approved in January 2017 after the parlamentary elections, is expected to continue the reforms.
The incentives programme, announced during the Cannes Film Festival, didn’t receive the support of politicians and is waiting for better opportunities in 2017.
Admissions to domestic films almost doubled in 2016, thanks to domestic comedies #selfie69 and Two Lottery Tickets. Total box office increased steadily by 10.21 percent while total admissions increased by 7.46 percent.
Most of the feature films shot in 2016 were supported by the CNC. In 2016 acclaimed filmmakers shot new projects including Călin Peter Netzer's Ana, Mon Amour, which was selected for the International Competition of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, Anca Damian's Moon Hotel Kabul, a feature film shot in Romania and Morocco, and Florin Șerban's Dog / Câine, a thriller produced by Fantascope.
Also shot in 2016 were feature films Pororoca directed by Constantin Popescu and starring Bogdan Dumitrache (Child’s Pose, Parada Film), Uruguay, directed by the Spanish-born Madrid- and Bucharest-based director Jesús del Cerro, and starring Dragoș Bucur (Peter Weir’s The Way Back) and Cristina Flutur (Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills, Mobra Films).
Several awaited debut features have been shot in 2016: Charlton Heston by Andrei Creţulescu, One Step behind the Seraphim / Un pas in urma serafimilor directed by Daniel Sandu and produced by HiFilm Productions, Soldiers. A Story from Ferentari / Soldati. O poveste din Ferentari by Ivana Mladenovic, Octav by Serge Ioan Celebidachi with Blasco Giurato (Dr. Zhivago) as the DoP, and The Not So Happy Side of Things / Partea nu prea fericită a lucrurilor by Emanuel Pârvu.
The Wanderers directed by Dragoș Buliga and starring Armand Assante was also shot in Romania in 2016.
The list of long documentaries shot in 2016 includes Tarzan’s Testicles / Ouăle lui Tarzan by Alexandru Solomon, the untitled independent documentary about the photo collection of Costică Acsinte (1897-1984) directed by Radu Jude (Aferim!, HiFilm Production) and produced by HiFilm Productions, and Planeta Petrila by Andrei Dăscălescu, which was selected for IDFA’ First Appearance 2016, a section Dăscălescu already won with Constantin and Elena in 2008.
There were not as many international productions shooting in Romania as in the previous years, but Castel Film was again a leader. Castel Film was servicing for Contract to Kill by Keoni Waxman (the sixth film shot by Steven Seagal in Romania), for the six-hour miniseries The Harley and the Davidsons, shot entirely by Raw Television for Discovery in Romania in spring-summer 2016, and also for Universal's fantasy film Dragonheart 4 by Patrik Syversen, a direct-to-video sequel to Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse, produced by Raffaella De Laurentiis.
Acclaimed Japanese director Sion Sono shot an untitled fantasy series for five days in autumn 2016 in Cluj-Napoca with Libra Film servicing. The project should propel the Transilvania Film Fund, established in 2010 but in need of a boost from the local authorities.
During Cannes Film Festival 2016 it was officially announced that the former Media Pro film studio re-launched as Bucharest Film Studios with a new management team, under new owners headed by Bobby Păunescu and Donald Kushner. According to a press release, Bucharest Film Studios would contribute an estimated 200 m EUR in production spend to Romania’s GDP with productions in the 20-30 m EUR range qualifying for tax relief, but no projects were announced through 2016.
In 2016 Romania had its best year ever at the Cannes Film Festival. Graduation / Bacalaureat by Cristian Mungiu and Sieranevada by Cristi Puiu were selected for the Official Competition, while Dogs, the debut feature by Bogdan Mirică, was selected for Un Certain Regard. Mungiu’s film was awarded Best Director, while Dogs received the FIPRESCI Award.
Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade, a coproduction between Germany, Austria and Romania (Hi Film Productions), was awarded the FIPRESCI Award in Cannes’ Official Competition, starting a glorious journey culminating with a nomination for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Albüm by Mehmet Can Mertoglu, a Turkish/French/Romanian coproduction coproduced by Romania’s Parada Film received the France 4 Visionary Award in Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique section.
Romania was the only CEE country selected for the Cannes’ Short Film Competition with 4:15 p.m.. The End of the World / 4:15p.m. Sfârșitul lumii by Cătălin Rotaru and Gabi Virginia Sarga, while another Romanian short film, All Rivers Run to the Sea / Toate râurile curg în mare by Alexandru Badea (UNATC, Romania), participated in the Cinéfondation competition.
Ultraviolet Media, the first world sales and film distribution company in Romania, founded in December 2015, was also present at Cannes 2016.
Illegitimate / Ilegitim by Adrian Sitaru won the CICAE Art Cinema Award in the Forum section of the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, while the Romanian short film A Night in Tokoriki / O noapte în Tokoriki by Roxana Stroe received the Special Prize of the Generation 14plus International Jury of the 2016 Berlinale.
In May 2016, Matei Truța, Distribution Manager with the Romanian company Transilvania Film (focusing on art house titles), told FNE: “Presently VOD constitutes less than 5% of our annual revenues. This in the context of the Romanian VOD market, in general, being underdeveloped and struggling with piracy.”
Questioned as to where he saw VOD in Romania five years from now, Truța answered: “VOD will definitely have a strong voice in how the future of the Romanian film market is shaped, but I don’t know if the next five years will be enough to see it done. Ultimately, it will come down to correctly addressing a series of problems before the VOD market can grow: piracy and adapting the distributors' offer to the consumers' need.”
Day-and-date release is in the early stages. Romanian distributors usually release their international films on VOD four to six months after their theatrical release. Antoine Bagnaninchi, who runs Independenta Film says that VOD has become routine for most of his films. “Until recently we launched most of our films on VOD but lately we have been launching all of them on VOD”, Bagnaninchi said.
Independenta Film joined the VOD platform Seenow in mid-April 2015. Seenow is operated by Direct One and is the first Romanian provider of live TV and VOD available on all screens.
CINEPUB, an online and free of charge platform for Romanian films, was launched on YouTube by GAV on 26 February 2015. Cinepub in partnership with Google Romania shows domestic feature films, short films and documentaries. Mubi was also launched in Romania in 2015 and has several Romanian films in its portfolio. Netflix was launched in Romania in 2016.
Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation was sold by Wild Bunch to Sundance Selects for distribution in the USA. “The film was pre-sold based on its script and before shooting in more than 20 territories during Cannes Film Festival in 2015”, Mungiu told FNE in 2016.
In October 2016 Mobra Films announced that Graduation would be released in 12 more territories until the end of 2016 including Hungary, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Israel, France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and Czech Republic. Before September 2016, the film was already released in Estonia, Italy and Holland. The film had its Romanian premiere simultaneously with the world premiere in Cannes.
The History of Love, the English-language debut of the Romanian-born France-based filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu and starring Gemma Arterton, Derek Jacobi, Sophie Nelisse and Elliott Gould, was sold by Wild Bunch in several territories.
This is the first international production using the Romanian town of Cluj-Napoca as a location. During 2016 Berlinale’s EFM, deals were cut with European territories such as Germany, Italy, Benelux, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and ex-Yugoslavia, and also with Central and Latin America, South Korea and Canada.
Paris-based Premium Films has acquired Nae Caranfil’s comedy 6.9 on the Richter Scale / 6,9 pe scara Richter. The film is a Romanian/Bulgarian/Hungarian coproduction and opened the 15th Transilvania IFF on 27 May 2016.
Daniel Sandu’s debut feature One Step Behind the Seraphim has been acquired by the French company Indie Sales while in production.
Igor Cobileanski’s Eastern Business / Afacerea Est , the first Romanian/Lithuanian/ Moldavian coproduction, has been acquired by the Russian sales agent Antipode Sales & Distribution.
Adrian Sitaru’s incest drama llegitimate was released by Damned Distribution in France on 8 June 2016. Paris-based sales agent Versatile Films is handling the sales.
Cătălin Mitulescu's romantic comedy By the Rails / Dincolo de calea ferată aka Rumeno has been acquired by the sales agent Cercamon World Sales.
In November 2016 the first interactive phone application dedicated to art house films was launched in Romania by Asociația Culturală Metropolis, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture. Călăuza / The Stalker will inform audiences about art cinema programmes and screenings in unconventional spaces.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
According to estimations provided by the Romanian Film Centre in January 2017, ninety cinemas were operating in Romania in 2016. Of the 386 screens, 371 were digitalised. In 2015 a total of 82 cinemas with 339 screens were operating.
In October 2016 Cinema City opened its fourth multiplex in Bucharest and the 24th in Romania, followed in December 2016 by its third multiplex in Romania in 2016. The biggest cinema operator in Romania wrapped 2016 with a total investment of approximately 19.73 m EUR / 21 m USD. Cinema City now operates 24 locations in 17 Romanian towns, with 223 screens and 40,070 seats. Cinema City is part of the Cineworld Group, the second biggest cinema operator in Europe.
Since 2008, RomâniaFilm, the former cinema network inherited from the communist era, has re-assigned more than 100 cinemas to local councils, but less than 10% are still screening films. There was no plan of building new cinemas in 2016, since the budget of the Ministry of Culture was very small, consisting of only 0.1% of the GDP.
The 5th edition of Transilvania Talent Lab (TTL), a professional workshop organised in the framework of the Transilvania IFF, focused in 2016 on the management of cinema theaters.
In 2014 Romanian Film Promotion and Transilvania IFF had launched the national campaign Save the Big Screen / Salvaţi marele ecran consisting of documenting existing old cinemas, making a documentary, seminars, a special screening during TIFF and a crowdfunding campaign.
Romania is now the country with the fewest cinema theaters per population in Europe. Seventy eight percent of Romanian towns don’t have any cinemas in use.
According to the Romanian Film Centre, admissions to domestic films almost doubled in 2016 compared to 2015. Admissions were more than 400,000 (estimated) in 2016, compared to 203,822 in 2015. This is due to the most successful domestic films #selfie69 and Two Lottery Tickets, with more than 1 m EUR gross together.
In September 2016, Cristina Iacob's #selfie69 reached 25,121 admissions and became the best opening Romanian film in the last 26 years. This youth comedy is a sequel to #selfie, which was the most successful domestic film in 2014 with 87,288 admissions and 259,971 EUR / 1,143,875 RON gross.
#selfie69 was produced by Adrian Sârbu, the ex-CEO of Central European Media Enterprises, through Zazu Film. It was released by Zazu Film.
In October 2016, #selfie69’s opening record was unexpectedly surpassed by the low budget comedy Two Lottery Tickets / Două lozuri by Paul Negoescu with 27,182 admissions and 95,488 EUR / 424,926 RON gross.
Two Lottery Tickets was produced with a budget of approximately 30,000 EUR and was distributed by Ro Image 2000, one of the leading Romanian distributors.
The domestic film with best opening in 2015 was Radu Jude's Aferim!, which sold 20,039 tickets in the first weekend.
According to cinemagia.ro, the 2016 admissions chart is topped by Suicide Squad (421,337 admissions), Deadpool (354,983 admissions) and The Jungle Book (353,335 admissions).
Domestic admissions chart 2016 is topped by #selfie69 with 150,113 admissions (ranked 30 in the general chart), followed by Two Lottery Tickets with 133,272 admissions (ranked 37) and Graduation with 55,192 admissions (ranked 98).
According to the Romanian Film Centre, in 2016 total admissions in Romania were approximately 12 m (estimated), compared to 11,166 861 in 2015 and 10,171.644 in 2014. Total admission increased by 7.46 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.
In 2016 total box office was approximately 51.235,955 EUR / 228 m RON (estimated) compared to almost 46.5 m EUR / 206,868,801 RON in 2015 and 41.6 m EUR / 185,201,343 RON in 2014. Box office increased by 10.21 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.
GRANTS AND LEGISLATION
The CNC has allotted approximately 6.8 m EUR / 30.5 m RON in its first session in 2016. The funding was double than usual because one session in 2015 had been cancelled. The grants were announced on 31 May 2016.
CNC distributed almost 4.5 m EUR / 21.44 m RON in its second session in 2016, with the results announced on 12 December 2016.
The Romanian government approved an emergency ordinance regarding the film industry on 29 November 2016, aiming at harmonising Romania with the new Cinema Communication adopted by the European Commission in November 2013.
The new law modified the regulations of the film grants contest by making it more transparent and permitting the reciprocity of international coproductions by introducing a separate category for minority coproductions. High school education is among the novelties of the law, together with the notion of ‘micro-budget films’ (budget of up to 60,000 EUR, for which up to 80% of funding can be allotted). The law also aims at simplifying the process of taking over of the old cinemas by the local authorities from RADEF Romaniafilm.
According to the new law, the National Archives move from the subordination of the Romanian Film Centre under the Ministry of Culture in order to provide a better protection of national heritage.
Romanian filmmakers Cristian Mungiu and Tudor Giurgiu were part of a group of experts working on the draft of the new law. Cinema was a priority for the minister of Culture Corina Suteu, appointed at the beginning of May 2016, but discussions on the amendments to the Cinema Law began under the former minister of Culture, Vlad Alexandrescu, who was the minister of Culture from November 2015 to April 2016.
During 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the Romanian Minister of Culture Corina Șuteu and the French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay signed a French-Romanian Cinema Convention.
At the beginning of 2016, the Ministry of Culture started recruiting new members for the Administration Council of RADEF RomâniaFilm, the former Communist network which runs only 16 cinemas from the several hundred in operation before 1990.
In June 2016 the Romanian Ministry of Culture launched a large evaluation process for the National Film Archives and the Romanian Cinematheque. Radu Jude, Corneliu Porumboiu and Radu Muntean were among the 55 professionals who voluntarily assessed a restructuring plan by September 2016.
The Ministry of Culture was also looking for financial recovery solutions for Sahia Film and Animafilm, hoping to re-launch their activities in documentary and animated films production. In April 2016 the Minister of Culture signed the appointment of three new members of the Shareholders' General Assembly (AGA) for each of them, including acclaimed documentary director Alexander Nanau in the Sahia Film's AGA and Mihai Chirilov, the artistic director of Transilvania IFF, in Animafilm's AGA.
Starting 1 August 2016, the Ministry of Culture selected a new Council of Administration for the Romanian Film Centre, composed of: Melinda Boroș, Lucian Pricop, Oana Radu, Horia Romanescu, Andrei Rus and Alex Trăilă.
According to a law approved on 25 May 2016, Romania will double the percentage of taxes collected from gambling and lottery which is allotted to the Film Fund from the current 1 percent to 2 percent.
Irina Radu was elected by the Romanian Parliament as the president/general manager of the Romanian public broadcaster (SRTV) on 10 May 2016.
In September 2015 Radu was approved by the Romanian Parliament as acting general manager of the Romanian public broadcaster after the rejection of the activity report on 2014 and the subsequent dissolution of the Council of Administration led by the former general manager Stelian Tănase.
Romanian public television, which runs several channels (TVR 1, TVR 2, TVR 3, TVR HD, TVR News, TVR i, TVR Moldova and five territorial studios), had a fiscal debt of approximately 103.5m EUR / 457 m RON in July 2015, which it had accumulated since 2005.
A new law approved in October 2016 would eliminate 102 taxes including the radio-TV tax starting 1 January 2017. Instead, the Government should allot a similar funding to the Romanian public broadcaster and the public service. According to the opponents of the law, this will bring the public radio and TV under the direct control of the Government.
The law was challenged by the public television and the public services, and also by the Romanian president Klaus Iohannis. The radio-TV tax consists of 1.34 EUR / 6 RON payed by each family.
The most popular private channels are: Pro TV (member of Media Pro trust, which is run by CME, Central European Media Enterprises), Antena 1 and Antena 3 (both members of Antena Group), B1 TV (owned by businessman and film producer & director Bobby Păunescu), Realitatea TV and Kanal D (run by the Turkish trust Dogan).
Happy Channel was launched in Romania in March 2016 replacing Euforia TV. Happy TV is operated by Antena Group.
In July 2016 the National Audiovisual Council of Romania gave satellite licenses to the Romanian company CEE Broadcasting Co. SRL for the retransmission of eight TV channels. The shareholder of the company is Magyar Broadcasting Co KFT from Hungary, which is connected to Hungarian Film Commissioner and media czar Andy Vajna. The eight channels receiving licenses are: Chilli TV, Izaura TV, Joy TV, Kiwi TV, Mozi+, Prime, Super TV 2 and Zenebutik. The channels were expected to air in the EU, Serbia and the Ukraine, but initially two or three of them would start airing in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine.
In March 2016 Cinethronix, a documentary cable channel from Constanța, received a license to broadcast in Bucharest, Southeast Romania and also in Bulgaria.
Romance TV launched in Romania and Hungary in May 2016. The channel is operated by Mainstream Networks Holding GmbH & Co. KG, a subsidiary of Mainstream Media AG.
HBO2 and HBO3 became available in Romania in SD and HD format starting 21 March 2016. HBO3 replaced HBO Comedy. HBO Romania also announced that all the channels from its portfolio - HBO, HBO2, HBO3, Cinemax, Cinemax2, together with their HD versions, will also be available dubbed in Hungarian.
HBO Europe began principal photography on the four-part hour long series Valea Mută / Valley of Silence on 10 May 2016, in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains.
Written by Cristian Barna and directed by Romanian director Marian Crisan, Valley of Silence is based on Øyevitne / Eye Witness, a successful Norwegian format. Castel Film is the producer from Romania.
ROMANIAN FILM CENTRE (CNC)
4-6, Dem. I. Dobrescu street, sector 1, Bucharest Phone: +40 213 104 301 Fax: + 40 213 104 300 www.cnc.gov.ro
THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND NATIONAL IDENTITY
FILMMAKERS’S UNION (UCIN)
ROMANIAN FILM PROMOTION
ROMANIAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE
Report by Iulia Blaga (2017)Sources: Romanian Film Centre (CNC), Cinemagia