Spring in Bucharest is by far the most exciting season film-wise, hosting two of the best festivals of the year.
One World is dedicated to documentaries addressing human rights issues and NexT is the biggest short film festival in Romania, both excellent in their selections and always at the pulse of current events and developments in the respective genres and markets.
It's probably no coincidence that they are led by Alexandru, respectively Ada Solomon, one of this country's director/producer 'power couples', with excellent documentary and fiction projects under their belts. Whenever a solid, relevant documentary comes along, look out for Alexandru Solomon's name in the credits and you can be sure that every feature winning international awards, especially in Berlin, is produced by Ada.
NexT International Film Festival kicks off on 15 April (ending on 19 April) and its programmes look great, as always. The festival has been growing visibly every year and offers more and more side-events dedicated to the promotion, production and distribution of a format which is not the easiest to sell, whether to cinemas or broadcasters or to audiences. What NexT and similar festivals achieve, is wonderful proof that short films are just as varied, brilliant and surprising at long-features and not 'just' an exercise until the first long-feature is directed.
The festival's established programmes (International and National Competition, Oscars Night, Festival Friends, NexT Kids) are joined by a few exciting new sections, such as Avant-garde Shorts and Kung Fu Next or this year's focus on feminist (and feminine) and LGBT issues and perspectives. The range of genres and approaches is dizzying and if the films are as good as in the last years, this edition will be a blast.
The side-events are just as interesting (a panel on sound in Romanian cinema, seminars on sound design, a discussion on the making of Aferim!) while the Short Film Market will appeal to industry guests in particular. But the cherry on the cake, at least for me, is the masterclass by Claire Denis, one of my favourite directors and one of the most celebrated and influential authors worldwide. The event is scheduled for 19 April at 12.30 pm at cinema Elvire Popesco.
If you've attended NeXt before, I'm sure you need no reminder to do it again and if not, you should definitely catch as many screenings as you can; you will be challenged, amazed and delighted.
By Ioana Moldovan, columnist, [email protected]