Romanian Cinema Surveyed at Sibiu: 20 Essential Films to Screen at Astra Film Festival 2019

Festivals 2019-09-26

Between 14 and 20 October, Sibiu International Film Festival will screen 20 movies that relate to Romania either by subject or their author: 13 documentaries are in the running for an award in the Romania and DocSchool competitive sections, four films will be shown in thematic programs and in the Astra Film Junior section, and three films are to be shown in special screenings. 

The films that compete in the Romania section cover both intimate, small-scale history, as well as the big History with a capital H. The issues they deal with are some of the most difficult confronting Romanian society and bring about a deeper understanding of the country’s destiny, from its founding in 1918 to the dark years of the Communist dictatorship and later developments like migration or corruption, which have constantly grown in the 30 years since the Romanian Revolution.

Fata de aur (The Golden Girl), directed by Denisa Morariu Tamaş and Adrian Robe, explores a dramatic incident in the history of Romanian sports: the events at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, when gymnast Andreea Răducan was stripped of her gold medal, and her subsequent fight with the people who had betrayed her in the quest to recover her medal and restore her dignity. Pastures New (by Anne Schiltz and Charlotte Grégoire) is about emigration abroad and homesickness as experienced by the people of the Sibiu county village of Mălâncrav. Casa cu lacăt (The House with a Lock), directed by Diana Gavra, is an exploration of corruption, a plague that has taken deep roots in the minds and daily lives of Romanians. Also, the documentary Teach, directed by Alex Brendea, developed in the Romanian Docs in Progress program of AFF 2016, will have its worldwide premiere at this years’ edition of the festival.

30 years after the fall of Communism, Dobrivoie Kerpenisan’s Rebel With A Cause spotlights the unsung heroes of 1989’s Romanian Revolution. Omul care a vrut să fie liber (The Man Who Would Be Free), by Mihai Mincan and George Chiper-Lillemark tells the story of a rebellious young man who decided that he would live free under Communism, in a country plagued by poverty and terror. Dragoș Zămosteanu’s Grup canal ’77 (Group Canal ’77) narrates the story of five young anti-Communists, followers of the Goma Movement, sent to a labor camp for trying to escape the Communist “paradise”. Palace for the People, by Boris Missirkov and Georgi Bogdanov, is a collection of four mini-documentaries that evoke the opulence, grandeur, and sense of oppression seen in Romanian, Bulgarian, Serb, and Russian architecture. Dragoș Turea’s Grădina Sovietică (The Soviet Garden) unveils the truth about the secret nuclear experiments in Moldova’s agriculture from the ’60s to the present time.

Distanța dintre mine și mine (The Distance Between Me and Me), a film by Mona Nicoară and Dana Bunescu, is an ambitious documentary centered on a conversation between author Nina Cassian’s personal recollections and Communist-era archival material. Jurnalul familiei –escu (Being Romanian: A Family Journal) is director Șerban Georgescu’s attempt at connecting life’s small events to history’s great events the nation has witnessed in the 100 years since the Great Union. 

The DocSchool competition also features two films set in Romanian life: La căpșuni (Strawberry Fields), by Priscilla Rasyid and Simon Frey, a Cineimpact Film Academy production, and Angor Pectoris (Sophie Dascal), the recipient of an award at Visions du Réel 2019. 

Other Romanian features are Videograme dintr-o Revoluție (Videograms of a Revolution), a joint feature by Andrei Ujică and Harun Farocki, threads back together the events of 19-25 December 1989 using archival footage and will be screened in the thematic program Videograms - Romania 1989, while Monica Lăzurean-Gorgan’s Oamenii dreptății (People of Justice) reveals the human faces of the Romanian judiciary through a series of portraits of young law professionals. The movie will be screened both as part of the thematic program The Judiciary Examined and in Astra Film Junior, together with Sibiu 1989, by Octavian Repede, and Alexandra Coca-Cozma’s George. 

The Romanian film roster also includes three special screenings: Touch Me Not (directed by Adina Pintilie), Leontina Vătămanu’s Siberia din Oase (Siberia in My Bones) and Între Chin și Amin (Between Torment and Redemption), directed by Toma Enache. Siberia in My Bones, which recounts the horrors thousands of Moldovans met under Stalin’s regime, and the latter movie, thought to be the first fiction feature about the Pitești Phenomenon, will both premiere at Sibiu. After winning the Golden Bear award at 2018’s Berlinale and having been selected at more than 150 major film festivals, Touch Me Not will have a special screening at this year’s AFF. The film will be followed by an educational debate titled “Politics of the Body”, which will give the audience the opportunity to talk to the actors and director Adina Pintilie, for a transformative experience focused on Sibiu’s communities of the disabled that have been invited to be a part of the event. 

Astra Film Festival Sibiu is held under the High Patronage of the President of Romania.

Astra Film Festival 2019 is organized by Astra Film, CNM Astra and Astra Film Foundation, with the support of the Sibiu County Council, the Ministry of Culture and National Identity, and the Romanian Film Center. The Festival is co-financed by the Sibiu Local Council through Sibiu City Hall.

Last modified on 2019-09-26