The sun strikes the great green Carpathian mountains, if only in a teasing way, as clouds and rain showers begin to roll in. However, this weather does not stop the city of Cluj-Napoca from transforming itself into a hub for a diverse variety of films from all over the world, as well as the crossroad for the domestic film industry. The city is pulsating with cinema. The Transylvania International Film Festival has started.
The giant inflatable screen is pitched right in the middle of the main square to bring the films closer to the general public during evening screenings where they can enjoy them after the workday is over. That´s a nice gesture to locals. The organizers of the festival have gone a little farther too, showing the initiative to save and reconstitute small town cinemas in the campaign Save the Big Screen. The multiplexes are not a part of the festival. Films are being screened in small cinemas or alternative spaces such as the university or military center. The festival has even started a campaign to turn the derelict film warehouses, buried under the avalanche of old film stock, into a cultural center, which may become the first Romanian film museum.
The domestic production keeps up the rhythm on the other end by spitting out new features. The new teen comedy #Selfie, the debut of Cristina Iacob, reached the threshold of 50 000 admissions in the two weeks even before the festival started. That´s good buzz for a first feature and a teen comedy. Though the synopsis sounds a tad familiar:
Instead of staying home and learning for their finals, three soon-to-be college graduates decide to go to the seaside and end their teenage years with a BANG! Yasmine, Roxi and Ana are determined to have fun and forget about all responsibilities just two days before the final exam and that means breaking every rule and doing everything they want without thinking about the consequences. They're looking for freedom, adrenaline, summer love and the three young men with whom they hook up seem to be willing to provide all the girls need.
Nae Caranfil, a figure often referred to as a filmmaker of the real Romania, allegedly unlike the New Wave, screens his long awaited English-language return behind camera, Closer to Moon. With Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong and Harry Lloyd the film tells the story of Four men and a woman, all high ranking members of the Communist Party, who are arrested, tried and convicted for an attempted heist. While waiting execution, they are forced to star in a propaganda film about the heist. Surely an ambitious stab at the heist genre.
In addition,the Romanina Section sidebar is set to open today. The Crypt promises an interesting story:
Leduc, a French real estate developer, prepares an old Romanian thermal resort for renovation. A Roman fresco in a crypt delays the project, so he tries to burn it down. But he locks himself in a courtyard by mistake. He stays trapped for days, the neighbourhood being deserted. He tries communicating with the few remaining residents and changes from a civilized being to a beast. Will he ever leave the courtyard?
I'm an Old Communist Hag promises laughs in what seems to be a bit more mainstream fare led by the dame of Romanian New Wave, Luminiţa Gheorghiu:
The story of Emilia, a 60-year old woman who lives peacefully with her husband Ţucu in a small Romanian town. The couple is overwhelmed with joy when they receive a phone call from Canada: their daughter Alice will visit them together with her American fiancé Alan. Things could not be better for Emilia, who looks forward to basking in the young couple's happiness. Moreover, Emilia, who is famous in the neighbourhood for her communist nostalgia, is asked to be part of a documentary about the extensive festivities organized on August 23.
I've already covered promising titles from the Main Competition here,
So today I'd like to look at a few of the fest's other offerings. Click to the right of the beautiful main square to check out the full gallery of mini-reviews, featuring the Turkish-Japanese co-production The Human, dark Serbian comedy The Priest's Children, and a ScreenAnarchy favorite, the Irish comedy The Stag (aka The Bachelor Weekend)