Romania 2011 Country Profile

By Iulia Blaga

    {mosimage}BUCHAREST: The Romanian domestic film industry remained steady in 2011, while coproductions and foreign films were on the rise. The foreign interest in the Romanian films continues and national films again received numerous prizes in festivals and attracted distribution internationally, while new festivals emerged inside the borders. Despite the regulation that there be two calls for grants, in 2011 there was just one session of the production grant contest organized by the National Centre for Cinema (www.cncinema.abt.ro). However, many co-productions were shot in Romania in 2011 as well as foreign productions, including Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance the biggest American film shot in Romania since Cold Mountain (2002).


    A total of 20 Romanian features hit the local screens in 2011 (they were 19 in 2010 and 16 in 2009), some of them postponed from 2010. From the list expected at the beginning of the year, just four films have been postponed their 2011 release date: Dan Chişu's Şi caii sunt verzi pe pereţi /The Horses Are Green on the Wall; Silviu Purcărete's Undeva la Palilula /Somewhere in Palilula; Bogdan Iuga's animated feature Micul spartan /The Little Spartan; and Lucian Georgescu's Tatăl fantomă /The Phantom Father.

    {mosimage}The local box office was topped by Virgil Nicolaescu and Jesús del Cerro's Naşa/The Godmother, with 26,788 admissions (source: www.cinemagia.ro). The results were mild, compared with Florin Şerban's 2010 hit Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier/If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle with 55,858 admissions. So far (since 1990) the popular MediaPro Pictures (www.mediapropictures.com) production Garcea şi oltenii, remains the Romanian box office record holder, with 252,000 admissions in 2002. The first Romanian romantic comedy in years, Alexandru Maftei's Bună! Ce faci?/Hello! How Are You?, had just 9,936 admissions in 2011. The second film in the local chart is Dan Chişu's comedy Ursul/The Bear with 14,807 admissions, followed by Cătălin Mitulescu's second feature Loverboy with 11,281 admissions. The film was launched in October and was heavily promoted on the social networks. Romanians still are not turning out in big numbers to see domestic films which are conquering international festivals, and no other film in distribution exceeded 5,000 admissions in 2011.


    The year included two important announcements in grants. The first one was the announcement of the winners from the second session of the grant contest of 2010, which happened in April 2011. Over 2.4 million Euro were dispersed at that time. The first session of the 2011 grant contest opened in August with the results published in November. Some 3 million Euro were given to seven features, three first features, four short films, two long and short documentaries, two long and short animated films and three features in development. It is unlikely that the second session of 2011 will be opened until the end of the year.

    {mosimage}FILM PRODUCTION

    In international film production, Romania saw the first big American production to be shot in Romania since Cold Mountain in 2002, Mark Neveldine's Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, produced by Sony Pictures (www.sonypictures.com). It was also the first film shot in Romania entirely on 3D (filming between November 2010 and February 2011). Castel Film (www.castelfilm.ro) provided services, as it did for Cold Mountain. Other foreign films that have been shot in Romania this year include Renzo Martinelli's September Eleven 1683; the 13 episodes series Girls Guide to Depravity produced by HBO USA/Cinemax USA (www.hbo.com, www.cinemax.com); Rudolf van den Berg's war drama Süskind whose shooting started March in Belgium and Netherlands and wrapped 30 June 2011 in Romania; and Kevin Reynolds's miniseries The Hatfields and McCoys: An American Vendetta (starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger, Powers Boothe and Mare Winningham), whose shooting started in September, and which is produced by Thinkfactory Media (www.thinkfactorymedia.com) for the History Channel. All of them used Castel Film as services provider.

    MediaPro Studios (www.mediaprostudios.com) continued its collaboration with Motion Picture Corporation of America (www.mpcafilm.com). William Kaufman's action movie One in the Chamber with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Dolph Lundgren was shot entirely in Romania over the summer, following the third production of MPCA in Romania, the teleplay William & Kate: A Royal Love Story, shot in Bucharest earlier in the year. Another MPCA project, Ernie Barbarash's Six Bullets aka The Butcher, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, was also shot at MediaPro Studios in the fall.

    More co-productions were shot in Romania in 2011 than in 2010. Alexandra Gulea's first feature Copil-miner /Child-Miner is produced by Thomas Ciulei and Europolis Film srl (site under construction) in co-production with Germany's Ciulei Films (site under construction) and France's La Vie Est Belle Film Associes (www.lavieestbellefilms.fr). Radu Jude's second feature, Toată lumea din familia noastră/Everybody in Our Family, shot in June-July, is produced by HiFilm Production (www.hifilm.ro) with the Dutch company Circe Films (www.circe.nl) and the Romania's Abis Studio (http://www.abisstudio.ro). Tudor Giurgiu's second feature, Despre oameni şi melci/Of Men and Snails, shot in summer, is produced by Libra Film (www.librafilm.net) in co-production with the French company Agat Films & Cie (www.agatfilms.com). The film stars not only Romanian actors, but also Jean-François Stévenin and his son, Robinson Stévenin. The Spanish Albert Serra shot part of his new feature Historia de la meva muerte in Romania in Autumn. The film is produced by Albert Serra's company Andergraun Films (www.andergraun.com) in co-production with the French Caprici Films (www.capricci.fr) and the Romanian Elefant Film. The second part of the film is to be shot in France.

    In 2011 Bobby Păunescu started his own production company, after launching Mandragora together with the director Cristi Puiu. Mandragora Movies (www.mandragoramovies.ro, site under construction) has also a distribution company in Paris - Mandragora International, with an office in New York. Mandragora Movies co-produced Daniele Vicari's Diaz - Non pulite questo sangue /Diaz - Don't Clean up this Blood shot partially in Bucharest. The film is produced by Fandango Italy (www.fandango.it), in co-production with Mandragora Movies and Le Pacte France (www.le-pacte.com). Mandragora Movies is also producing Nae Caranfil's Closer to the Moon, his first English language feature starring Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong. Filming began on 5 September 2011. Closer to the Moon is produced by Păunescu and Mandragora Movies (providing most of the funding), Renata Rainieri of the Italy's Rainier Group, and Michal Fitzgerald of the U.S. company CTTM LLC. The film is co-produced by Denis Friedman of France's Denis Friedman Production and Allesandro Leone of Poland's Agresywna Banda (www.agresywnabanda.com). The third project of Mandragora Movies this year was Toni Trupia's Itaker, which began filming in Italy on 7 November 2011, and moved to Romania in 21 November 21.The film is produced by Michele Placido and Păunescu, through their companies, the Italian Golden Art and Mandragora Movies.

    Austrian director Wolfram Paulus's shot Unsere große Zeit /Our Big Time in Romania between July and August. The film is produced by the Austrian SK-Film-und Fernsehproduktions-gesellschaft m.b.H. (http://www.skfilm.at/de) in co-production with Romania's Libra Film Productions (www.librafilm.net) and Germany's Pinguin Film GmbH (www.pinguin-film.de).

    Bogdan Dumitrescu Dreyer began filming Condamnat la viaţă/So I Say with Gérard Depardieu, Harvey Keitel and Laura Morante on 12 September 2011. This is a production of the Romanian company Family Film (www.familyfilm.ro) together with the German company Daniel Zuta Filmproduktion (www.zutafilm.de). Family Film, a Romanian company ruled by Giuliano Doman, was previously called Tandem Film, but re-branded this year. Adrian Sitaru's third feature, Domestic, is a co-production between 4 Proof Film (www.4prooffilm.ro) with the German coproducer company unafilm (www.unafilm.de). Anca Damian's long animated documentary Crulic: Drumul spre dincolo/ Crulic /The Path to Beyond, is a Romanian-Polish coproduction produced by the Romanian Aparte Film (www.apartefilm.net) together with Fundacja im. Ferdynanda Magellana (www.fmagellan.pl) through the Polish co-producer Arkadiusz Wojnarowsky, and supported also by the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl) and the Regional Fund Krakow/the Krakow Film Commission (www.film-commission.pl/en/o-film-comission/krakow-film-fund), the Romanian CNC (www.cncinema.abt.ro) and the Romanian Ministry of Culture and Editura Video (www.editura-video.ro). Bogdan Mustaţă's first feature, Lupu/Wolf (shot in Bucharest between 26 September and 12 November) is produced by Romania's Strada Film (www.stradafilm.ro) in co-production with the German Neue Road Films (www.neueroadmovies.com). Two new production companies launched in 2011 - Fantascope (site under construction), opened by the director Florin Şerban in February 2011, and Kinosseur (www.kinosseur.ro, under construction), founded by the producer Andrei Creţulescu.


    The Romanian films continued to be sold abroad in 2011. Radu Jude's first feature, Cea mai fericită fată din lume /The Happiest Girl in the World (www.ceamaifericitafatadinlume.ro) has been sold to Poland and Bulgaria, by Films Boutique (www.filmsboutique.com), who also sold Radu Muntean's Marţi, după Crăciun /Tuesday After Christmas to Poland. Bogdan George Apetri's Periferic /Outbound (www.periferic.ro) has been sold by mk2 (www.mk2.com) to Poland, Greece, Israel and Switzerland, while Alexandru Maftei's Bună! Ce faci?/Hello! How Are You? has been sold by M-Appeal (www.m-appeal.com) in more than 10 territories so far: Belgium/Netherlands/Luxemburg, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Macedonia. Andrei Ujică's Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu/The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu (www.autobiografia.ro), continued to be sold in 2011 to USA and to the Benelux territory after premiering in Cannes 2010.


    The number of cinemas in Romania grew as Cinema City (www.cinemacity.ro) opened two new multiplexes in Brăila and Arad. Cinema City opened its first multiplex in Romania in 2007. It is now the market leader (followed by Hollywood Multiplex, www.hmultiplex.ro) with 106 screens and 19,370 seats in Bucharest, Arad, Piteşti, Iaşi, Timişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Bacău, Baia Mare and Brăila. Grand Cinema Digiplex (www.grandcinemadigiplex.ro), which opened in September in Băneasa Shopping City Bucharest (www.baneasashoppingcity.ro), brought the widest flat screen in Romania and 13 screens. RADEF RomâniaFilm (www.romaniafilm.ro), the communist era manager of Romanian cinemas and current owner of some 30 screens in Romania, opened its first 3D cine-café in Bucharest and opened a renovated cinema, Republica, in Cluj-Napoca.

    Outbound/Periferic (www.periferic.ro), the debut feature of Bogdan George Apetri, was the first film to have a simultaneous cinema and online release in April on webkino.ro, a project initiated by Romanian distributor Voodoo Films and owner Cristian Mungiu, together with the marketing and online sales company Q2M (ro.q2m.net).


    The national Gopo prizes (www.premiilegopo.ro) awarded on 29 March 2011 gave seven awards to Florin Şerban's debut film Eu când vreau să fluier, fluier/If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, including Best Feature, Best First Feature, and Best Director. Medalia de onoare /Medal of Honor, directed by Peter Călin Netzer, won Best Script award and Best Leading Actor (for Victor Rebengiuc), while Radu Muntean's Marţi, după Crăciun /Tuesday, After Christmas was awarded Best Leading Actress (Mirela Oprişor). Due to Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceauşescu/The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu, the regulations of the Gopo prizes were modified so as full length documentaries screened in the cinemas could be eligible for Best Film, Best Director, Original music, Cinematography, Editing and Sound. A new category was added, Best First Feature.


    The 10th edition of Transilvania International Film Festival (www.tiff.ro) celebrated also 10 years of the Romanian new cinema, and it was the best edition so far, with more films, more venues and more events. After Cluj-Napoca (June, 3-12) the festival moved to Sibiu (June, 15-19). The Romanian Days section screened 12 features and 15 short films. Marian Crişan's Morgen was awarded Best Feature, Bogdan Mirică's Bora Bora won Best Short and Bogdan George Apetri's Periferic/Outbound took Best Debut. Morgen has also been selected as the Romanian candidate for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

    The first edition of Golden Carpathian - Ploieşti European Film & Fair (www.goldencarpathian.com) took place in Romania in August, and plans to become bigger in the years to come.


    The TV landscape was in flux, with new channels receiving a green light and others closing. The Discovery Channel (www.yourdiscovery.com/web/find-us-on-tv/romania/) launched the women's entertainment channel TLC in Romania in January 2011 on the basic analog and digital packages of UPC (www.upc.ro) and AKTA (www.digitalcable.ro). In March, Romtelecom has acquired DTH Television Grup, including the digital satellite station Boom TV with 95,000 subscribers. Romtelecom also signed with Digital Cable Systems to buy AKTA Satelit (www.akta.ro/dth) late March. Mezzo Live HD (www.mezzo.tv) launched in Romania on Romtelecom's Dolce platform (www.romtelecom.ro/en/business-solutions/tv/dolce/) in spring. Digi Sport 3 (www.digisport.ro), controlled by the communication company RCS & RDS (www.rcs-rds.ro), started airing in June, while Zeus TV (www.zeustv.ro) started airing on UPC (www.upc.ro) in May. The generalist channel Giga TV received a license, as well as another local channel, TV Giurgiu, in May. The tourism channel Travel Mix (www.travelmix.ro) was launched in March. Other channels closed, such as Televiziunea Ta, Telesport (www.telesport.ro) and Vox News, because they stopped airing for more than 90 days. The communication company UPC (www.upc.ro) was in negotiations with a potential buyer, RCS&RDS (www.rcs-rds.ro) in September and there were rumors that it would be put on public auction, but it appears negotiations have started up again. If RCS&RDS had bought UPC, it would have become the market leader, gaining over 1.1 million clients from the cable and TV satelite. Realitatea TV (www.realitatea.net) faced many changes in 2011. In May Romanian-Israeli businessman Elan Schwartzenberg bought 90% of its shares from Sorin Ovidiu Vântu. In October 2010, the company Asesoft (www.asesoft.ro) took over the management of Realitatea Media, part of the group Realitatea-Caţavencu (www.gruprc.ro) and including Realitatea TV, The Money Channel (tmctv.money.ro), Realitatea FM (www.fm.realitatea.net) and Radio Guerrilla (www.radioguerrilla.ro). In autumn 2011 Realitatea TV split into two separate channels, Realitatea TV (controlled by Schwartzenberg) and RTV, which re-branded into Romania TV on 1 December (controlled by Sebastian Ghiţă, the manager of Asesoft). Digi News, operated by RCS&RDS, was expected to launch in December 2011, after a delay in its original plans.

    HD has spread throughout Romania. Romtelecom (www.romtelecom.ro) launched the first online video integrate portal in Romania on March 2011. Dolce TV Online (www.dolcetv.ro) offers content in four main sections: movies, TV, sport and entertainment. In May 2011 the public television (www.tvr.ro) stated that its revenues were slightly higher in 2010 as in 2009, but the deficit stayed high in 2010, at 38.5 million euro. In June, HBO Central Europe (www.hbo-centraleurope.com) launched the internet streaming service HBO GO in Romania.

    The process of switching to digital moved slowly in 2011. The major new piece of legislation, the approval of the Digital Law, was not approved in July 2011, when it was expected. In March, the Ministry of Communications (www.mcsi.ro) stated that the move should begin on 1 January 2013, after it was been blocked by the government in 2010, and the date postponed from January 2012 to January 2015. The new strategy should have been discussed and approved by the Government by mid-year. The auction for the first two multiplexes would have begun in spring 2011. In October, Valerian Vreme, the minister of Communications, said that Romania is ready to move to digital as soon as the papers are be approved, and that it might take another few months. Romania has already missed the first term for the switch to digital, at the end of 2009.


    The ad market has continued declining in 2011. In May it was at its lowest point in the past five years, but ZenithOptimedia/Zenith Media Romania (www.zenithmedia.ro) estimated in October that the ad market was expected to show a decline of just 4% in 2011, with light growth anticipated at the beginning of 2012.