Romanian directors Radu Ciorniciuc and Alexander Nanau have been shortlisted at the Sundance Festival
Today's World of Culture is about Romanian directors Radu Ciorniciuc and Alexander Nanau, the two film makers shortlisted at the Sundance Festival, the best known independent film festival in the United States, taking place between January 23 and February 2. Alexander Nanau's film 'colectiv' was the selection in the Spotlight category, while 'My Home' by Radu Ciorniciuc was selected for the World Cinema Documentary Competition section.
'colectiv' by Alexander Nanau has previously enjoyed success at the screenings in Venice and Toronto. It is the only documentary to be shown in the Spotlight section of the festival. The observational documentary follows events in the first year following the tragedy in the Colectiv club in Bucharest. On 30 October 2015, a fire broke out suddenly in the club, leaving 66 dead. The film focuses on the relationship between the authorities and journalists in the attempt to find the truth. It is a film about people facing off against the system, and the fine line between truth and lies. Here is the director himself talking about it:
“I decided that a story had to be told about what happened, that the process within Romanian society has to be understood. I put together a research team, I documented the story in all directions, and, together with Antoaneta Opris, the film's co-author, I realized we had to focus on the press, because the press can decipher the relationship between power and the citizenry. I chose to tell the tale through the eyes of the press because at that time the press, more precisely the team from Gazeta Sporturilor, namely Catalin Tolontan, Mirela Neag, and Razvan Lutac, was the only one to ask questions. Otherwise, in the rest of the media, officials were lying and spreading disinformation. They said that the victims could be operated in Romania, that we had conditions, but the team from Gazeta Sporturilor uncovered the fact that the burn unit in Floreasca Hospital, where the victims were supposed to be operated, was in fact closed. That is how we realized that there is more to this story. Because the team led by Catalin Tolontan was well known for investigations, and that is how we got the idea to go to them to ask them if they have more on hand, something new to expose this lie that the state was perpetrating, and to allow us to see how they research the topic. At first they were very reticent, but seeing that our team also was deeply involved in investigating the issue, they started trusting us and we started collaborating. And, as we were shooting the film, we realized that we were documenting a real life thriller.”
My Home, the debut film by director Radu Ciorniciuc, tells the story of a family that lived for 20 years in the wilderness area of Vacaresti Delta, before it became a nature reserve, Vacaresti Nature Park nowadays. For four years, the film maker followed the adventure of the Enache family, from a life in harmony with nature to the challenges of the urban jungle that is Bucharest. The film team developed at the same time a social project with the participation of a large number of experts and humanitarian organizations. The 11 members of the family lived in isolation, with no papers, no education, or access to healthcare. Now, all nine Enache children have proper papers, go to school, and have regular access to healthcare, while the adults hold regular jobs. Here is journalist and director Radu Ciorniciuc:
“I could say that 'My Home' is a family drama. The film is the story of four years in the life of a family. We shot the film for two years in the Vacaresti Delta, then two more in the city, during their social integration. It is a documentary made in collaboration with co-writer Lidia Vdovyi, then Mircea Topoleanu joined the project too. None of us had experience in cinema, but we managed to collaborate, and at some point we were joined by an experienced producer. At any rate, because we are journalists and had access to channels through which we kept communicating with the public, the project had gained some visibility. It was also an attempt to consolidate the social project we had started, and which was aimed at helping the children and their parents have a less traumatizing experience, and we have a lot of support from the public at large. Thanks to the people who supported us, we were able to finalize this multimedia project, My Home. We also have an album made by the children in their first year of transition, when they documented their move from the Delta to the end of their first year in school. They had never been to a school before.”