A local organization is planning to protest today, February 8, at the screening of the film Soldiers. Story from Ferentari. The film, which focuses on a gay couple, is screened at the cinema of the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant (MNTR).
The association called The Orthodox Brotherhood of the Great St. George (Fratia Ortodoxa Sf. Mare Mucenic Gheorghe Purtatorul de Biruinta) announced the protest on Facebook. The association is unhappy with the chosen place for the screening and said it was planning to “stop the gay propaganda that is being attempted in this national symbol of the Romanian people.”
It said the museum is “a sanctuary of the ancestral culture and traditions of the Romanian people, deeply rooted in authentic Christianism, love and the supreme respect for the natural.”
At mid-day February 8, the Facebook event had a total of 31 people listed as attending and 152 as interested.
In response, the management of MNTR said it did not have the attributions to censure a production that obtained all the legal approvals, and called the “pressure and imposing of censorship” “unacceptable.” It also said “the right to free speech is one of the fundamental liberties obtained in the Romanian democratic society.”
Meanwhile, the gendarmes were informed of the planned protest and could come at MNTR if necessary, Europafm reported.
Today’s planned protest comes less than a week after another film screening at MNTR was interrupted by a group of protesters carrying religious signs and icons. They stopped the screening of the French drama 120 BPM (120 Beats Per Minute) on the evening of February 4.
Voodoo Films, the distributor of 120 BPM, announced that the film was rescheduled for February 20, at MNTR. Those who had purchased a ticket for the interrupted, February 4 screening, will have free access at the February 20 one. In the meantime, the film is shown in several other locations in Bucharest and in the country. The full list is available here.
Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, who is involved in film distribution through the company Voodoo Films, said the February 4 incident places Romania in association with terms such as “primitivism,” “fanaticism,” and “intolerance.” The director, who won a Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival in 2007, among other distinctions, pointed to the risk that the incident annuls the effect of many initiatives that are trying to change the international perceptions of Romania.
He recalled how he was pictured in a cartoon as a beggar, while he was a jury member at Cannes in 2013. He also pointed to the upcoming Romania – France Cultural Season, aimed in part at combating the stereotypes between the two countries and to bringing different, fresh perspectives.
Mungiu also won the Best Director award at the Cannes film festival in 2016 for Graduation, and the 2012 one for Best Screenplay for Beyond the Hills.
The MNTR cinema is one of the few Bucharest cinemas screening European productions and films outside of the blockbuster circuit, after several were closed two years ago for not complying with safety standards. It holds many screenings as part of festivals.
Soldiers. Story from Ferentari is based on the 2013 novel of the same name written by Adrian Schiop (pictured), who was also cast in the film in one of the leading roles and co-wrote the script. It is the debut film of director Ivana Mladenovic.
It tells the story of 40-year old anthropologist Adi, who moves into the poor Bucharest neighborhood of Ferentari to work on a PhD thesis on the musical genre of manele. There he meets former convict Alberto, a Roma, with whom he starts a relationship.
The film counts Ada Solomon among its producers. She was previously involved in the production of the Oscar-nominated Toni Erdmann. She also produced Radu Jude’s 2015 Aferim!, which earned the director a Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlinale, and Călin Peter Netzer’s Poziția Copilului (Child’s Pose), which won the Golden Bear at the 2013 Berlinale.
(Photo: Soldații. Poveste din Ferentari Facebook Page)