Summer can be a dry period for films other than action flicks or comedies, so it’s refreshing to see that cinemas are currently screening a more varied programme, and no less than four Romanian films of different genres, approaches, and wildly differing content.
Claudiu Mitcu and Ileana Bîrsan’s Procesul/The Trial (opening photo) is a documentary with a dramatic subject: a former army officer accused of complicity to murder and his struggle to prove his innocence, taking the case up to the European Court of Human Rights, which decided in his favour in 2012. Carried by a charismatic protagonist (not a given in documentaries), the film is a gripping look at how the judicial system works (or does not). Not an easy or comfortable watch, but a though-provoking one as the audience is invited to draw their own conclusions on the case.
Liviu Marghidan’s Străjerii/The Sentries is a novelty for local screens, namely an adventure film for children. It has all the ingredients of a successful family pic: a lot of adorable children, a camp in the mountains, and the adrenaline rush as one of the boys gets lots. It’s a shame though that the film feels so sedated despite the very promising setup, the spectacular scenery, and the admittedly adorable kids. What is does well, though, is its documentary-like observation of the children and their dynamics, which feels very immediate and intimate.
To stay with the documentary form, the spectacular România Neîmlânzită/Untamed Romania is also still screening after having premiered in March; I assume because it has been commissioned for the occasion of the Centenary and the year is still on. It is an eye-popping look at Romanian’s nature and wildlife and very much worth your time. You can find more details on the film here.
Finally, Bogdan Theodor Olteanu's Câteva conversații despre o fată foarte înaltă/Several Conversations about a Very Tall Girl has already been making the rounds as the “lesbian movie”, which is of course a crass simplification of an insightful look at love, identity, and a young, urban generation not afraid to be who they are, but still struggling with notions of “tradition” and “propriety”. It is also not strictly speaking the first Romanian film on sapphic love, but it is indeed the first one to handle the topic so overtly, and in such an assured and unapologetic manner. It is the story of two young women getting to know each other online and discovering they have a former lover in common, namely the eponymous tall lady. They meet, and a tentative romance begins, but there are so many factors that might endanger the newly formed bond.
All four features are currently screened in Bucharest and in several cities throughout the country. Various film festivals feature them, and for the regular cinema programme, you can check the dates and locations on Cinemagia.ro.
By Ioana Moldova, columnist
(Photo source: astrafilm.ro)