Marita, director Cristi Iftimie's feature length film debut, premiered in Romanian theaters at the end of last year, after winning the FEDEORA jury award in the East of West section of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival
One of the qualities that were appreciated by European critics was 'the simplicity in directing this story focused on the everyday life of a family whose members, though separated by the divorce of the parents, enjoy spontaneously every meeting and enjoy the positive energy in their lives'. The story, says director Cristi Iftimie, started from an event that it’s been on his mind. Even thought they had separated a long time before, out of sheer habit, a woman and a man head towards the couple's old car, a Dacia they had baptized Marita.
One of the questions we asked Cristi Iftime was related to building a cinematic story starting from a gesture that may seem insignificant: “That gesture was very poignant to me, it has been with me ever since, and usually my movies start off from events like that, that stay with me. I didn't even give a thought to the risk. It is true that the 'kill your darlings' rule – which states that you should give up on the elements that you hold most dear in a story – usually works, but I ignored that when making Marita. At some point I was afraid the movie would not live up to my expectations, but, without false modesty, it seems to have worked out just fine. We tried to condense as many things as possible in the movie, but trying to keep it loose and simple at the same time.”
One of the ideas of the movie, according to the director, is for Sandu, Marita's owner and father to three children, passionate about stamp collecting, self-declared lover of life, eager to tell his story, to be understood by the viewers without passing judgment. The same goes for Costi, one of Sandu's three sons, apparently the most exigent when it comes to his father's excesses, as it also happens when the family gathers around the Christmas table.
Cristi Iftimie: “I've always been interested in alienation, the fact that they meet there, even though they are not together in any real way. They meet and feel good for a few hours in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere. But then these ties unravel, it was only circumstance that had them look and behave like a family, though they are not one. If there had been tensions and fights among them, this beautiful part of the meeting would have been a failure, it would have been pointless.”
Marita is a road movie that tries to capture an important moment in the life of a young man, that of separating from his father. It is a road movie physically, but also on the inside of the character, and this complexity is what attracted actor Alexandru Potocean, one of the best actors of the new wave, with over 30 titles under his belt, in domestic and international movies, working with famous directors like Radu Muntean, Cristian Mungiu, Cristi Puiu, and Constantin Popescu.
Alexandru Potocean: “At a certain point, all this fabric of relationships built around the father started to interest me very much. I found something very familiar in that. This is how I started grasping the character of Sandu, understanding how Costi relates to him. In rehearsals, I started with the idea of prosecuting Sandu, most of the time. However, in the end it's not all about that. That happens too, but the idea is not to judge Sandu. It is rather an attempt to understand him and the way he relates to life. Even if we don't like it.”
Adrian Titieni, who got the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago Film Festival for his role in Cristian Mungiu's Graduation, winner of five Gopo awards, three for best leading actor and two for best supporting actor, is considered the most prolific actor right now. In 2017 alone he acted in 12 feature length and short movies. This is not the first time he worked with Cristi Iftimie. He also acted in the short film July 15, which made it through selection at the Berlin Film Festival.
Adrian Titieni: “Cristi is a director with a very interesting background. He has a degree in film, but also has another in philosophy, which provides him with a very different outlook on film directing. He has an extraordinary attention for detail. He has a vision and a way of thinking that I like very much. I love working with people who see beyond immediate reality. This approach is a challenge for me. I am glad he cast me in this role, which is super-challenging, and difficult at the same time. At the risk of repeating myself, I don't know if I lived up to expectations.”
The movie's script was written by Anca Buja and Cristi Iftimie, Luchian Ciobanu was cinematographer, with editing done by Dragos Apetri. Costumes were designed by Alexandra Alma Ungureanu, set design was done by Malina Ionescu, and the sound design was signed by Dan Stefan Rucareanu, Alexandru Dumitru and Florin Tabacaru. The producers were Ada Solomon and Radu Stancu, and the movie features in the main roles Alexandru Potocean, Adrian Titieni, Lucian Iftime, Victoria Cocias, Andrei Hutuleac, Bogdan Dumitrache and Ana Ciontea.