Dear readers, I hope you are all safe and well! As many cultural events have moved online, here are a few options to watch films from your home.
In addition to the mighty Netflix, HBO GO is a great platform that also screens Romanian features regularly and especially documentaries, often co-produced by the network. If you are not looking for diversion these days, you should hurry and watch Colectiv/Collective. Director Alexander Nanau tackled social issues in the excellent 2014 Toto și surorile lui/Toto and His Sisters (also currently on HBO GO), and this time he pulls no punches. Structured as an investigative thriller, Collective follows the journalists at Gazeta Sporturilor who uncovered the Hexi Pharma scandal after the tragic fire at Colectiv club in Bucharest in October 2015, which caused a massive ripple of public outrage and a change of government. Many of the victims died after being infected in hospitals with ultra-resistant bacteria, leading to the horrific find that the company Hexi Pharma had been selling diluted disinfectants to Romanian hospitals for years, which also explains the many deaths occurring over the years after casual interventions. The subsequent attempts to try and change a rotten system by then newly appointed Minister of Health Vlad Voiculescu and his team are the focus of the film’s last part. Collective is hard-hitting, infuriating, and sometimes unbearably sad. It is also thrilling, admirably controlled, and emotionally restrained although a clearly scathing look at the state of things. But its greatest strength is the maturity to understand how moral and ethical decisions are made in a broken system, while clearly condemning what is unequivocally wrong. This is essential viewing, especially in a country with a medical system that often betrays the ones it should care for, and so much more in these current times.
If you do prefer a diversion, then Corneliu Porumboiu’s criticial (and a personal) favourite should do the trick. Streaming on Film at Lincoln Center, La Gomera/The Whistlers can be rented for 12 UD$. This delightful homage to film noir takes you from Bucharest to the Spanish island of La Gomera, where mobsters use a traditional whistling language to communicate without being caught by the police, and then to Singapore for an eye-popping romantic finale. Playful, clever, and gorgeous to look at, this is guaranteed to take your mind off things.
If you are looking for free options, TIFF Unlimited’s initiative #CaranTIFF shows films (Romanian and international) during the weekend from 5pm and 9pm, and also after this period for regular subscribers. They have also extended their free trial period to fourteen days if you are interested in the entire library and have put together the first ten titles than can be streamed for free outside of Romania. Keep an eye on the platform for more to follow.
And finally, for a purely Romanian movie marathon, also for free, please check out CINEPUB.ro, hosting films old and new, short and long, and of all genres.