Daniel Sandu's debut film as a feature length director, came to Romanian theaters in late September
'One Step Behind the Seraphims,' Daniel Sandu's film debut as a feature length director, came to Romanian theaters in late September in 35 towns and cities. Upon popular request, additional screenings were organized. Writer and director Daniel Sandu says that the movie is 80% based on real events, based on his experience as a theology student in the 1990s. Gabriel, played by Stefan Iancu, is a teenager who wants to be a priest and goes to a Christian Orthodox seminary. He tries at first to adapt to that environment, but then realizes the system is totally corrupt and abusive. According to Daniel Sandu, he wanted to make a different kind of Romanian movie.
Daniel Sandu: “The main condition was to make a Romanian film that the audience wants to see again and again. There are too many cases of Romanian movies, very much appreciated, winning many awards, which, if you have seen once, you don't necessarily feel like seeing again. At the same time, the movies that inspire me, mainly American, are movies that I can see dozens of times without getting bored. It is a rare sensation, and I hoped this movie would be like that, one that the spectator wants to go back to. We should make a return as an alternative to the famous Romanian minimalist movies, as well as an alternative to American blockbusters, which we cannot match with the means in Romania.”
'One Step Behind the Seraphims' stars Vlad Ivanov, playing the maleficent Father Ivan, and Stefan Iancu, in his first feature length role, playing Gabriel:
Stefan Iancu: “When I saw that Daniel was interested in this type of American cinema, I was happy, and it made me even more interested in this film. I would like to specify that I don't have a problem with minimalist film or European film, and he definitely doesn't either. I like these films, but I feel like watching something different after so much minimalism. I was curious to see a film made on the classic American pattern, but in Romanian. The moment I saw where Daniel wanted to take the movie, I was fascinated. I was very curious how he would manage that. And when I saw the movie, I could not believe that it is so close to what I'd like to see in Romanian cinema. I am very fond of American movies, because I grew up with them.”
Even though the movie is based on the director's experience as a theology student, Daniel Sandu specified from the start that his intention was not that of attacking the Orthodox Church. In spite of all this, there were priests who reacted on Facebook, warning Christians that 'One Step Behind the Seraphims' is slander against the Church. Daniel Sandu explains:
Daniel Sandu: “We expected reactions like this, these were subjective reactions from some clerics. It is not an official point of view. What is curious is the fact that these reactions came out two weeks before the movie was out. Those people did not know what they were talking about, and yet they still expressed an opinion about the move, and criticize it in the most 'Orthodox' way possible. The strangest pieces of criticism were also the funniest, they referred to me and to the protagonist as Satan. When I decided to put this story into a movie, I did not intend it to be a story that would create a publicity circus. The scandal emerged around the story and due to ignorance of its details.”
Stefan Iancu told us about his experience as a feature length actor:
Stefan Iancu: 'Photography was done in three chunks, ten days a piece, so we can see the passage of time, from one season to the next. The most difficult part for me, was trying to build a history for Gabriel. Gabriel begins in a certain way, has certain ideas, then starts changing. And because we did not film in chronological order, I had to do takes for the end of the movie, when Gabriel had to be and look one way, and then I would do a take from the beginning of the movie, where I was supposed to wear glasses, with my hair done differently. And it was not always difficult going from one Gabriel to another.”
'One Step Behind the Seraphims' also features Ali Amir, Alfred Wegeman, Stefan Mihai, Niko Becker, Ilie Dumitrescu Jr., Cristian Bota, Marian Popescu and Radu Botar.
(translated by: Calin Cotoiu)