Romanian film review: One World Romania 2021
One World Romania, Romania's most important documentary film festival (and certainly the most daring, committed, no-nonsense film fest altogether), dedicated to human rights, held its 14th edition live in Bucharest between 11 to 20 June, and continued online from 21 to 27 June.
The international programme is as diverse and topical as ever, with a focus on feminism this year. The opening film, Paloma Sermon-Daï’s Petit Samedi, is part of the section playfully called “Women on the Verge of Gender Equality”, and what a lovely start to the festival days. The “petit” (little, or young) Samedi of the title is Damien, the director’s brother, a 43-year old man who has been struggling with heroin addiction for decades; trying to stay sober proves an ongoing struggle. He is supported by his mother, Ysma, and their relationship, loving and caring, is the main focus of this wise, gentle, and very touching film. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___
The other sections focus on other urgent matters, from the plights of refugees to the ones of people marginalised for all possible reasons. Judith Auffrey’s A House and Jacques Lin’s None of Them Says a Word are two of the films in this section, tender observational looks at a project in France where a group of young adults with severe autism share a house and its chores, being given a chance to live in a community and with dignity.
As if wonderfully arranged to fit this year's focus, the winners of the International Competition are all directed by women. The big trophy went to Carolina Moscoso Briceño's powerful Night Shot, while the Special Jury Award went to Catarina Vasconcelos’ family poem The Metamorphosis of Birds, easily the most beautiful film of the festival. Another film impossible to forget, Éléonore Weber's remarkable, chilling There Will Be No More Night, received both the Special Award of the Highschool Students Jury and a Special Mention of the Audience, which it shares with Nuria Giménez Lorang's sublime My Mexican Bretzel.
The Romanian fims screened were Radu Jude’s Babardeală cu buclu sau porno balamuc/ Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn and Raluca Durbacă’s debut Certitudinea probabilităților/ The Certainty of Probabilities, an absorbing montage of archive short films from 1968 which make up a fascinating picture of the time and its ideology. Archive material was given ample stage in general, with archive programmes dedicated to Paul Călinescu and Jean Mihail, and wonderful female filmmakers Ada Pistiner and Florica Holban.
There are so many more titles to recommend that I wouldn’t even know where to start (although the Ulrike Ottinger special and the films by and featuring Delphine Seyrig are a must), so check out the selection (most films are available during the online week) and watch as much as you can because all these films are fantastically urgent, insightful, and often very moving. There is nothing like the documentary form to rattle both one’s heart and mind.