BUCHAREST: The most important accolades for the Romanian cinema in 2017 were the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for editing received by Călin Peter Netzer’s Ana, mon amour, and Best Actor award given to Bogdan Dumitrache for Pororoca by Constantin Popescu at the 2017 San Sebastian Film Festival.
In May 2017 the Chamber of Deputies rejected the Film Law which was approved by the Romanian government as an emergency ordinance on 29 November 2016 and was aiming at bringing the Romanian film law in line with European legislation.
The Romanian Film Centre (CNC) launched only one grant contest in 2017, although the law requires two sessions per year.
The country saw a dramatic decrease in domestic admissions (from 484,739 in 2016 to an estimated 250,000 in 2017), but the number of domestic debut features increased.
Total admissions increased by 11.25 percent and total box office increased by 14 percent from 2016, according to the estimations provided by the CNC.
The most important accolades for the Romanian cinema in 2017 were the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for editing received by Călin Peter Netzer’s Ana, mon amour, and Best Actor award given to Bogdan Dumitrache for Pororoca by Constantin Popescu at the 2017 San Sebastian Film Festival.
Most of the films produced in 2017 were supported by the Romanian Film Centre. Important filmmakers were in production with new projects in 2017. Radu Jude shot his new feature filmIs This What You Were Born For? with his regular producer Ada Solomon from Hi Film Productions in summer-fall 2017. The film is a Romanian/Czech/French/Bulgarian coproduction between by Hi Film Productions, endorfilm, Les Films d’Ici and Klas Film. Beta Cinema is handling the sales and Micro Film will release it in Romania in 2018.
Radu Muntean shot his new feature film Alice T. in August 2017. This psychological drama is a Romanian/Swedish/French coproduction between Multi Media Est, Chimney and Les Films de L'Apres Midi.
Stere Gulea shot a sequel to Moromeții, 30 years after his first adaptation of the novel by Marin Preda in one of the most acclaimed Romanian movies of all times. Moromeții 2 is produced by Tudor Giurgiu through Libra Film Productions and will be domestically released by Transilvania Film on 9 November 2018.
In 2017 Tudor Giurgiu shot his fourth film as a director and his first film as a director abroad. Based on a Romanian bestseller, Above Man, the Woman Soars / Apropierea / Sin Aliento is a Romanian/Spanish/Czech coproduction between Libra Film, Clint Movies and Evolution Films.
In 2017 Anca Damian started the production of the long animated filmThe Extraordinary Voyage of Marona / Extraordinara calatorie a Maronei, a coproduction between Romania’s Aparte Film, France’s Sacrebleu and Belgium’s Mind Meets.
In spring 2017 Paul Negoescu shot his first international coproduction, Never Let It Go, produced by him through Papillon Film & N-Graphix in coproduction with Poli Angelova through Bulgaria's Screening Emotions. Negoescu’s previous film Two Lottery Tickets / Două lozuri, an independent comedy produced by Actoriedefilm.ro on a budget of approximately 30,000 EUR, became the domestic film with the best box office (540,000 EUR / 2,403,355 RON) in 2016.
Several expected debut features were shot in 2017. Ioana Uricaru’s Lemonade was shot in Montreal and Bucharest in June-August 2017. The film is a Romanian/Canadian/German/Swedish coproduction produced by Cristian Mungiu through Romania’s Mobra films in coproduction with Canada’s Peripheria, Germany’s 42 Film and Sweden’s Filmgate Films. It is the first Romanian film made with Canadian support since 1989.
Writers/directors Gabi Virginia Șarga and Cătălin Rotaru, who were selected with their very first short film 4:15 p.m. The End of the World for Cannes short film competition in 2016, filmed their debut feature in autumn of 2017. Thou Shalt Not Kill / Să nu ucizi aka Primum Non Nocere is a 100% Romanian production produced by Adina Sădeanu through Axis Media Production in coproduction with Gabi Virginia Șarga and Cătălin Rotaru through Green Cat Film.
Hadrian Marcu shot his debut feature Shadow and Dream (working title) in 2017. The film is a Romanian/Polish coproduction produced by Anamaria Antoci and Adrian Silișteanu through Romania's 4 Proof Film in coproduction with Klaudia Smieja and Beata Rzezniczek through Poland's Madants. The film was shot in the spring of 2017.
Romania continued to host international coproductions despite the fact that a tax incentive scheme is long awaited. In 2017 Cristian Mungiu got involved in a big international project with his company Mobra Films. Palm d'or winner Jacques Audiard shot The Sisters Brothers, starring Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal, in Romania in August-September 2017. This western set in Oregon in 1851 is a French/American/Romanian coproduction between Why Not Productions, Annapurna Pictures and Mobra Films.
The Nun, directed by Corin Hardy, was the first New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. production to be shot at Castel Film Studios in 2017. The spin-off to the 2016 The Conjuring 2 was shot entirely in Romania from May to June 2017 as a medium budget production by New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster and The Safran Company.
Castel Film Studios also serviced for the Hallmark film Family Royal directed by and starring James Brolin in 2017.
The romantic drama See You Soon starring Liam McIntyre, Jenia Tanaeva and Harvey Keitel was shot in Romania in July 2017. Romania's Alien Film serviced it not only in Romania, but also in Greece and Russia.
The day-and-date release is in its early stages in Romania. Romanian distributors usually release their international films on VOD four to six months after their theatrical release. Antoine Bagnaninchi, who runs Independenta Film and distributes art house titles, says that VOD has become routine for most of his films.
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.
However, Matei Truța, Distribution Manager with the Romanian company Transilvania Film (distributing art house films) told FNE in its Distributor of the Month section in April 2017, that “the specifics of the Romanian market are such that both VOD and Home Video are rather underdeveloped” .
In May 2016, Matei Truța also 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.”
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.
A new Romanian film distributor Bad Unicorn made its debut on the Romanian market by releasing Ildikó Enyedi's On Body and Soul on 30 June 2017. The film had 15,781 admissions until the end of 2017.
In 2017 more domestic films were released in Romania by major distributors such as Vertical Entertainment and Ro Image 2000.
Festival exposure continued to help Romanian films to be sold abroad. Călin Peter Netzer’s psychological drama Ana, mon amour was sold by Beta Cinema to 12 territories. This Romanian/German/French coproduction between Parada Film, augenschein Filmproduktion and Sophie Dulac Productions was sold to: Benelux, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Turkey, ex-Yugoslavia, China, Taiwan, Germany, France and Mexico. The film was released in Romania by Vertical Entertainment on 3 March 2017 and had 25,146 admissions until the end of the year.
Wide Management sold the psychological drama Pororoca by Constantin Popescu to China, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Spain and France, following its premiere in the main competition of the San Sebastian FF. The film was produced by Romania’s Scharf Film & Advertising in coproduction with France’s Irreverence Films.
Soldiers. A Story from Ferentari, the debut feature of Serbian director Ivana Mladenovic, was acquired by the German sales agent Beta Cinema before its world premiere at the San Sebastian FF. The film was also selected for Toronto Festival’s Discovery section and is set for release in Romania by Micro Film on 2 February 2018. The film is a coproduction between Romania’s HiFilm Productions, Serbia’s Film House Bas Celik and Belgium’s FRAKAS Productions.
Andrei Crețulescu's debut feature Charleston aka Charlton Heston was picked up by Paris-based sales agent Versatile. This Romanian/French coproduction between Icon Production and Les films du tambour and in association with Romania’s Kinosseur, was selected for the International Competition of Locarno 2017 and is set for domestic release in 2018.
Adrian Sitaru’s Fixer / Fixeur, which was chosen as Romania’s official candidate for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 2018, has been sold by MPM Film to Italy, Norway and Denmark. The film was produced by Romania’s 4Proof Film in coproduction with France’s Petit Film, and was already released in Romania and France in 2017.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
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. Romania is currently the country with the fewest cinema theaters per population in Europe. Seventy eight percent of Romanian towns don’t have any cinemas in use.
The first state cinema opened in Romania after 1990, Cinema Ateneu, was opened in Iași in October 2017. Local authorities invested approximately 100,000 EUR in its renovation and 3D equipment.
The plan to build an art house cinema network in Romania was the core of a meeting of local exhibitors, distributors and filmmakers, and also representatives of Europa Cinemas and the European Commission. The meeting was held during the 20th Europa Cinemas Network Conference in Bucharest (24-26 November 2017). The idea of a network including local art house cinemas was part of the Film Law elaborated by the Romanian Ministry of Culture under the minister Corina Șuteu and rejected by the Parliament in May 2017. Nico Simon, the President of Europa Cinemas, and Lucia Recalde, head of the MEDIA unit, said that their institutions might start helping the network when it is in place.
Cinema Elvire Popesco from Bucharest was among the winners of the Europa Cinemas Awards 2017 announced at the 20th Europa Cinemas Network Conference in Bucharest on 24 November 2017. Boglarka Nagy, the programmer of Cinema Elvire Popesco, Bucharest, Romania received the Best Programming Award.
Cinema City opened its 25th multiplex in Romania in Galați at the end of November 2017. The biggest cinema operator in the country, which celebrated its 10th year in Romania in 2017, opened its fourth Romanian 4DX cinema in Brăila Mall in August 2017. New multiplexes helped increase admissions, which were as low as almost 3 m in 2007, to more than 13 m in 2016. Now Cinema City dominates more than half of the market with 25 multiplexes in 18 towns, totalling 231 screens and over 41,400 seats.
The first 12 D cinema in Romania opened in the Museum of National Science in Galați on 19 July 2017. The nine-seat hall was equipped with the support of a private investor.
Ninety two cinemas were operating in Romania in 2016. Of the 393 screens, 371 were digitalised, according to the Romanian Film Centre. No statistics or estimations for 2017 were available until the wrap of this report.
A total of 19 domestic films (including one minority coproduction) were released in 2017 and had 250,000 admissions (according to the CNC’s estimations), while 20 domestic films sold 484,739 tickets in 2016.
The 2017 crop of films has not produced a popular youth film such as #Selfie 69 by Cristina Iacob (with 150,384 admissions in 2016), a comedy like Two Lottery Tickets by Paul Negoescu (133,788 admissions in 2016) or a festival darling such as Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation (55,533 admissions in 2016).
The most successful domestic films in 2017 were the nostalgic melodrama Octav, the debut feature by Serge Ioan Celebidachi with 57,068 admissions and 185,138 EUR / 858,237 RON gross (distributor Oblique Media), Ghinionistul by Iura Luncasu with 50,727 admissions and 208,077 EUR / 964,570 RON gross (distributor Vertical Entertainment), 6.9 on the Richter Scale / 6,9 pe scara Richter by Nae Caranfil with 32,996 admissions and 100,157 EUR / 464,296 RON gross (distributor Voodoo Films), A Step Behind the Seraphim / Un pas in urma serafimilor, the debut feature by Daniel Sandu, with 31,550 admissions and 81,587 EUR / 378,209 RON gross (distributor Micro Film) and Hawaii aka Uruguay by Jesus Del Cerro with 25,946 admissions and 108,549 EUR / 503,198 RON gross (distributor Ro Image 2000).
The 19 films released in 2017 include six debut features and three long documentaries, while another four debut features are ready to be released in 2018. Only three debut features and two documentaries were theatrically released in 2016.
The admissions chart 2017 is topped by Fast & Furious with 683,826 admissions and 13,315,379 RON gross. The film is followed in the box office by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Thor: Ragnarok, Fifty Shades Darker and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. An admissions chart cannot be drawn up because distributor Forum Film Romania stopped reporting admissions to Cinemagia, which is the only private initiative in film statistics in Romania. As a result, total admissions cannot be estimated until the Romanian Film Centre releases its 2017 statistics in the spring of 2018.
Total admissions increased by 11.25 percent from 13,033,687 in 2016 to an estimated 14,500,000 in 2017, according to the Romanian Film Centre (CNC). Box office increased by 14 percent from 53,684,981EUR / 241,582,416 RON in 2016 to an estimated 61,222,222 EUR / 275,500,000 RON. CNC also estimates that admissions for domestic films were 250,000 in 2017.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
There was one grant session launched by the Romanian Film Center (CNC) in 2017. In November 2017 the CNC announced it would give 10,750,000 EUR / 50 m RON for feature film production (5,267,500 EUR / 24.5 m RON), debut feature production (1,612,500 EUR / 7.5 m RON), documentary production (1,075,000 EUR / 5 m RON), animated film production (1,075,000 EUR / 5 m RON), short fiction film production (537,500 EUR / 2.5 m RON) and development (107,500 EUR / 0.5 m RON). The results will be announced in 2018.
In the same session, CNC launched for the first time production grants for short and long thematical films. The theme of this session was the celebration of 100 years since the Great Union of 1918, which led to the modern state. The amount for this section was 1,075,000 EUR / 5 m RON.
According to the law, there should be two grants sessions per year, but in 2017 things went slowly due to a new Minister of Culture, Lucian Romaşcanu, who was expected to issue a paper regarding the grant contest regulations, with the Parliament's approval of the Emergency Ordinance regarding the thematical film grants.
In January 2017 the Ministry of Culture changed its name to the Ministry of Culture and National Identity, as one of its main goals in 2017 was to prepare the centennial of the union of 1918.
In May 2017 the Chamber of Deputies rejected the Film Law approved by the Romanian government as an emergency ordinance on 29 November 2016. The new law proposed by the Ministry of Culture, was aimed at bringing the Romanian film law in line with the European legislation and was approved by the Government in December 2016, shortly before the parliamentary elections won by the Social-Democratic Party.
Lucian Romaşcanu was named the new Minister of Culture, announced by the Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose on 28 June 2017, following Ionuţ Vulpescu, who had been re-appointed Minister of Culture in January 2017, after the Social Democratic Party (PSD) won the parliamentary elections in November 2016.
Romania doesn’t have a tax incentives scheme yet. The former Minister of Culture Corina Șuteu announced her intention to launch such a scheme in Cannes in 2016, but Șuteu’s intentions aiming at a multi-levelled reform in the film industry were blocked when the PSD won the elections in November 2016 and rejected the new Film Law in spring 2017. A petition pointing out to the need of having a tax incentives scheme in Romania has been signed by more than 3,500 professionals since 28 November 2017.
The Government eliminated the radio-TV tax starting 1 January 2017 and started to allot similar funding to the Romanian public broadcaster and the public service.
In September 2017 Doina Gradea was confirmed by the Romanian Parliament as acting general manager of the Romanian public broadcaster (SRTV) after the rejection of the activity report on 2016 and thus the dissolution of the Council of Administration led by the former general manager Irina Radu.
Irina Radu, who had been acting general manager since September 2015, said that 2016 was a though year, when the institution was confronted with approximately 150 m EUR in debt. Romanian public television runs several channels: TVR 1, TVR 2, TVR 3, TVR HD, TVR News, TVR i, TVR Moldova and five territorial studios.
The most popular private channels in Romania 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, film producer and director Bobby Păunescu), Realitatea TV and Kanal D (run by the Turkish trust Dogan).
Cinemaraton, the first channel to broadcast only domestic films in Romania, started airing on 30 March 2017. The channel is distributed free of charge to the subscribers of AKTA. AKTA is the brand under which the telecom company Digital Cable Systems SA provides TV channels, internet and telephony to more than 3,000 localities in 35 counties.
In 2017 Pro TV continued to produce and broadcast its popular sitcom Las Fierbinți. Launched in 2012, the series created by Mimi Brănescu and directed by Dragoș Buliga and Constantin Popescu, reached seasons 11 and 12. Both seasons were broadcast in 2017.
Also in 2017 Antena 1 started the production of the series The Forbidden Fruit / Fructul oprit, produced and directed by Ruxandra Ion. Shooting started in November 2017 and it is set to take place in Romania and also in Turkey, since the series is based on a Turkish novel.
The second season of the most popular series produced by HBO Europe in Romania, Shadows / Umbre written and directed by Bogdan Mirică, opened simultaneously on 12 November 2017 in all 19 European countries where HBO operates: Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Kosovo, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Spain. Of the six episodes two are directed by Igor Cobileanski.
HBO Romania reconsidered its dubbing policy after more than 5,000 subscribers signed a petition asking the channel to stop dubbing films in August 2017. The reaction came after HBO Romania broadcast a dubbed version of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. HBO Romania’s representatives told FNE that that the channel will respect the wishes of its subscribers and will make sure that from now on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has its original audio and Romanian subtitles. HBO Romania might also stop dubbing other titles.
CASTiNG, one of the few Romanian online original series to date, started broadcasting on YouTube on 14 December 2017. Its first episode has had 22,000 views to date. CASTiNG’s premiere came shortly after the launch on YouTube of another domestic series, Lara directed by Ciprian Iacob and produced by Mixton Movie, which has had 2.1 m viewers for its first episode from September 2017 to date.
Unlike Lara, a children and youth series played by non-professional actors, CASTiNG is a professional enterprise made with a budget of 30,000 EUR and a crew of 40 people. The production company Diud is already planning the second season and more online shows. The eight episodes are directed by young directors Millo Simulov, Andrei Gheorghe, Florin Babei, Iliana Dumitrache, Roxana Andrei and Andrei Ion.
Report by Iulia BlagaSources: the Romanian Film Center - CNC, cinemagia.ro