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Men of Deeds, the most recent feature length movie by Paul Negoescu, had its international premiere at the Sarajevo Film Festival
Men of Deeds, the most recent feature length movie by Paul Negoescu, had its international premiere at the Sarajevo Film Festival. It recently won the Golden Atlas Grand Prize at the International Film Festival in Arras, France, and the special jury prize at the International Francophone Film Festival in Namur, Belgium. This dark comedy was selected for 17 festivals, and Iulian Postelnicu, main protagonist, has already got two prizes for his acting: the International Film Festival in Cottbus, Germany, and the International Francophone Film Festival in Namur, Belgium. The movie came to theaters in Romania on November 25, and the team that made the movie was present for screenings in several cities, meeting the audience in Bucharest, Bacau, Botosani, Brasov, Cluj, Iasi, Focsani, and Piatra Neamt.
The movie stars Iulian Postelnicu, Vasile Muraru, Anghel Damian, and Crina Semciuc. Men of Deeds tells the story of a policeman in the countryside who dreams of having an orchard of his own and a tranquil life, in a place in which only the well-to-do make the law, but a series of unforeseen events lead him into a terrible bind. It was written by Radu Romaniuc and Oana Tudor, and was shot on location in Botosani County, featuring Iulian Postelnicu as the middle aged policeman, faced with major decisions. We talked with Paul Negoescu about the challenge of directing someone else's scrip, with a story taking place in a northern village.
“It was hard to persuade me, because the script seemed very much outside of my sphere of interest. This was mainly because the action takes place in a remote village in the north of Moldavia, where I was only for a short time, as a tourist. More than that, I never had relatives in the countryside, I never lived there. But because Radu Romaniuc insisted that I read the scrip and direct it, on the second reading I realized that what interested me in this movie was the protagonist. I realized that I was interested in this character, the way he is built, and that the entire background of the story, the place where the action is, is in fact just a stage I had to document. So I finally conceded to direct the script by Oana Tudor and Radu Romaniuc, because I realized that what interested me with this character was to be able to talk about him even if the story was in a universe that was unknown to me. And the policeman Ilie, played by Iulian Postelnicu, is not necessarily a negative character as much as he is nuanced, he has his good side and his bad side, and it is easy to identify with him, because he is very human.”
Men of Deeds was appreciated by both audience and critics. According to Variety, Ilie is not painted in dull colors, as a good man in a bad system, and not as an antagonist either. Rather, he is portrayed as a victim, a man ridiculously tangled into a culture of corruption, to the point where it is hard to say when and where his own impulses and principles start or end. The review also adds that only a Romanian movie would be able to make this into a funny story. Screen International writes that, just like the Coen Brothers and Tarantino, Negoescu steers his movie into the realm of western movies in their late stages, since Ilie turns into the sheriff late in turning his guns on the bad guys. Here is Paul Negoescu:
“Instinctively, the first movie I turned to for watching again when I was working on Men of Deeds was the movie Fargo, by the Coen Brothers, although I wasn't planning to take inspiration from their movie. Things fell into place more from the script, which pushed me into this area, precisely because I was not familiar with the location where the action would be. As I said, since I am not from Moldavia, I tried to imagine an ideal universe, and I take a lot of inspiration from Coen Brothers movies, and these references probably contributed a lot to how I saw things. I think that my main contribution was, first of all, to select Iulian Postelnicu for the main role, because Iulian brought a lot of depth to this character, and a whole lot of nuance. Of course, you could have built the main character based on script alone, but Iulian managed to make it very credible. He humanized him, you can recognize yourself in him easily. Working with Iulian was a breeze, went well from the beginning, so we didn't need a lot of rehearsal, and we didn't need a lot of takes. As I said, everything went well, because we saw things along the same lines right from the start, starting with casting.”
Men of Deeds is produced by Papillon Film and Tangaj Production from Romania, in collaboration with Screening Emotioins of Belgium, and another Romanian company, Avanpost Production.
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