From “it’s complicated” to “Am I a cinephile”?

My relationship with film and the cinema can be perfectly defined by one of the relationship statuses on Facebook: “it’s complicated”. (A.I., 23, jurist)

And because there can’t be film without public, detur la Preciziei, went to talk to a few young Romanians (for the moment) to find out their opinions on cinema. And what we discovered is (encouraging for a film website) that they watch films, and not only films, but also Romanian films, and not only Romanian films, but even films made before they were born. Well, some more than others, but that was to be expected as we can’t all be cinephiles.

I do watch films, and I do it periodically; the film’s genre going from psychological thrillers to animations. (A.A., 18, veterinary medicine student)

My interest in cinema started to grow lately, along with my pleasure of watching films. A few years ago I didn’t exactly have the mood to watch films, but that started to change. (I.C., 22, medicine student)

My relationship with cinema is, unfortunately… pretty inexistent for the moment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching films, which on the contrary I do a lot, but I don’t have the time. I consider that one needs time to properly “consume” cinema, it’s not something you can start and just abandon in the middle, films need time to be digested. (L.B., 23, st textile design student)

I enjoy watching films, especially in cinemas. (C.D., 28, customer services)

For me, cinema is, alongside the other visual arts, a means of understanding the world and analyzing it through the lenses of different concepts. Well, that if we follow the premise that the film achieves its goal. (L.B., 23, translator)

They might have been just a little (maybe a little more) reserved when it came to Romanian cinema.

[…] Romanian films are not really the kind of films that I usually watch, but that’s mostly because I don’t get across Romanian films that much. (A.U., 18, architecture student)

I don’t usually watch Romanian films, but I do have a few on my list which are a must. (I.C., 22, medicine student)

I’m a huge film fan, but I can’t exactly say that I am also a fan of Romanian films. (S.I., 15, high school student)

In the last 2 or 3 years, I started to be more and more interested in Romanian cinematography. I consider Romanian films to be a bit different than what I have watched so far, a bit unusual; I like their subtlety and the unspoken that transpires from the actions and the quotes, it’s like reading between the lines. Also, I enjoy the fish-tail endings, when the viewers are left to decide what happens after the final credits. (A.A. 18, veterinary medicine)

I can’t say that I’m a fan of Romanian film, I try as much as possible to avoid any kind of drama, especially the kind that I deal with every day. I don’t really feel the need to see that on the screen as well. But, if and when I hear good things about a certain film, I won’t wait for it to disappear from the cinemas. (C.D. 28, customer services)

About Romanian film, well when I was living my teenage years to their fullest, I could’ve sworn that Romanian films are simply dreadful (but that was because my only experiences with Romanian films, were a few old productions like Margelatu, Liceenii, Veronica, highly regarded by some nostalgics over the Communist era). Later in high school started discovering a whole new level of Romanian cinematographic productions, which simply astounded me and stirred my curiosity over the new wave of films. I realized that even though Romanian film known a history of over a century, this art was just starting to bloom. (A.I., 23, jurist)

I adore films and all the sensations and experiences that come with it, but I can’t say I have a connection with Romanian films, especially with the contemporary ones,  I just feel like I’m not on the same page with what they are trying to depict. (S.P., 15, high school student)

I did watch some Romanian films, but I can’t say I’m on topic when it comes to Romanian cinema. (L.B., 23, textile design student)

I watch Romanian films, occasionally. (A.M., 23, law student)

I’m not used to watching Romanian film, mostly because I don’t really know it, but also because of the negative image of films. I used to follow these kinds of ideas that weren’t based on solid and trustworthy sources or arguments, without actually making up my own mind. But lately, I started double checking these opinions and critics, in search of my own and the film festival “Evening of Romanian Film” was a great context for that. Thanks to this experience I came to the conclusion that we, Romanians, still have directors, as well as actors, which proved their talent, being appreciated on an international scale as well, in important film festivals. That only opened my eyes and stirred my taste for Romanian film and its history, and I hope not to lose my interest anytime soon. (C.C., 25, graphic designer)

I rarely watch Romanian films (like extremely rare), they’re not as entertaining as Hollywood ones. (C.I.,23, graphic designer)

But on which criteria do they chose what films to watch? (or they just flip the coin?)

I appreciate films based on genre, actors’ performances, and overall message. (A.U., 18, architecture student)

When I chose a film, I don’t really care about reviews or ratings, I prefer to make my own mind about it. It’s sometimes only the title, or an actor, the poster or a still from the film, that makes me want to watch it. (A.A., 18, veterinary medicine student)

The way a film is promoted, from the poster, to title, to actors; I sometimes base my choice on a few film reviews, positive or negative from the so-called cinephiles.

I always find amusing the talks over a pint of beer about a new film, they give me the impression that I’m at a “Junimea” meeting and the main topic is always the actors’ performances. These free reviews usually determined me to see a film, so that I could also talk about “how that actor was in that role”. Of course, I do believe that an unconvincing performance damages the whole experience of that film, but that’s not the decisive criteria, at least not for me. (A.I., 23, jurist)

Which are Romanians favourite Romanian films? We noticed, despite the fact that most of the interviewees don’t exactly have the closest relationship to Romanian film, as the last would be an estranged relative; the answers to this specific question are diverse. Not only that the films depict different themes and subjects, but also cover quite a long time period, from 1986 to 2016.

If I have to choose, I’ll go with Illegitimate (Ilegitim, 2016), not necessarily because it’s my favourite, but it was the one Romanian film that impressed me the most. I enjoyed the acting performances and the taboo subject that the film challenges. (A.U., 18, architecture student)

My favourite Romanian film is Love Building (2013). It’s one of the first Romanian films I’ve seen, and what attracted me, and still does is the way it deals with the theme. I liked the actors, but mostly the dynamics and diversity of the couple, which perfectly illustrates the modern couple. I find this film unique, because it shows how love can exist in any kind of couple, and for every “us” there is still a second chance. (A.A., 18, veterinary medicine student)

Probably, Two Tickets (Doua Lozuri, 2016)… I think it’s one of the few films that had decent promotion strategy. (S.I., 15, high school student)

Why me?(De ce eu?, 2015) It’s a film inspired by a true story and is related to my future profession. (A.M., 23, law student)

I never thought about my favourite Romanian film, and now I find myself struggling to make a decision between Silent Wedding (Nunta muta, 2008) and Why me? (De ce eu?, 2013). Two films that are at different poles, by any criteria one would compare them. Even though Silent Wedding is the film that had radically changed my view on Romanian film, I will have to choose (emotionally) Why me?, a film that fitted my interests at the time like a glove and made me watch it several times. I admit I savoured with the same interest the film at each screening during several events.

I mirrored myself in the image of the main character (but there’s nothing wrong in judging an art piece by its ability to make one see through its characters eyes, right?), thanks to Emilian Oprea’s exquisite performance (the actor in the role of Cristi Panait). Although harshly criticized for his overdramatic interpretation, due to his background as a theatre actor, that was exactly what made my whole soul tremble, that triggered a rollercoaster of emotions. And for that, the actor needed indeed to be a master manipulator of his own, and the public’s feelings. 

The story itself is breathtaking, and the script follows exactly the true case, fact which I appreciate. (A.I., 23, jurist)

I adore The Highschoolers (Liceenii, 1986), from the way it was filmed to the subject. I feel like, in this case, the barrier between the viewer and the characters has been broken, which only made me resonate with them. (S.P., 15, high school student)

The Oak (Balanta, 1992) is my favourite, probably because of a sense of absurd, which is specific to Romanian cinema. (L.B., 23, textile design student)

I’ll have to say the last one I saw, Sieranevada (2016). It’s a black comedy, it’s realistic and dramatic, but full of humour (the best jokes are the bad ones, made in the right context!). You don’t leave the cinema hall with a contemplative mood, and a bitter taste, as it happens in the case of most Romanian films. (C.D., 28, client services)

One of my favourites is Beyond the Hills (Dupa dealuri, 2012) by Cristian Mungiu, because it successfully depicts the spiritual atmosphere from a monachal space, but mostly because of the way a group of nuns and the priest deals with an unexpected case of demonic possession. The events’ dynamic, enhanced by the scenery, the cold and tense atmosphere, captivated me, as well as the strong friendship between the two main characters, Voichita and Alina. (C.C., 25, graphic designer)

I can say that my favourite Romanian film is The Earth’s Most Beloved Son (Cel mai iubit dintre pamanteni, 1993). A tragic-comedy set in the propitious context of Romanian film, Communism. (L.B., 23, translator)

The Earth’s Most Beloved Son is my favourite one; it makes you laugh, but it also offers a glimpse of a different world, the living hell from behind the bars in a Communist prison. I also like The Moromete Family (Morometii, 1987). (C.I., 23, graphic designer)

I don’t have a favourite Romanian film, but the last one I saw is Marilena from P7 (Marilena de la P7, 2006) I was enchanted by the character’s drama, by the emotion’s intensity and the peripheral space of the actions. (A.P., 22, Art History and Theory student).

The Earth’s Most Beloved Son, I consider it to be a masterpiece of Romanian cinema, for its way of dealing with humour and wit with a situation that was the opposite of amusing, creating a metaphor for the life under the Communism. (S.A., 22, dental technician)

Filantropica (2002), I find its subject extremely appealing, good actors and really funny. (I.C., 22, medicine student)

Child’s Pose (Pozitia copilului, 2013), Beyond the Hills, Filantropica. Filantropica, I very much liked this film, because it presents aspects of Romanian life, the dialogue was smart, and the actors good… (D.A., 23, teacher)

How they describe Romanian film?

Unpredictable and intense. (A.U., 18, architecture student)

Actually, from my point of view, the peripheral dimension is a main characteristic of the Romanian contemporary film, be it space, or characters. (A.P., 22, Art History and Theory student)

If I’d look outside, on the street right now, that would be it, a Romanian film. I think this atmosphere is what makes Romanian film so realistic, so real; it turns usual, trivial situation into satires, into tragic-comedies. (S.A., 22, dental technician)

Good ideas, but it lacks a good translation for the screen, it’s too bleak, too frigid. (S.P., 15, high school student)

Romanian cinema is as artistic, as it is rough, it’s sinuous and edgy, it’s exuberant and humble.  Romanian cinema is the step-sister/adopted sister of French cinema. If I’d have to think about a word to define it, I’d end up being trapped between antonyms mostly, but let’s just close our eyes (ironically) and pride ourselves with its originality, when, well the truth is… (L.B., 23, translator)

For me Romanian film is like a second reality, but with more intense feelings. (A.A., 18, veterinary medicine student)

I think I can compare Romanian film, in a metaphorical way, with a Phoenix, which revives from its own ashes. If the beginnings of Romanian film were arduous, because of the sociopolitical context at the time, and the lack of interest and resources, I noticed a beautiful ascension between the years 1948-1989, followed by fall, and a rebirth after 1990. I strongly believe that our cinema is in full process of developing itself and I can’t wait for it to surprise me, and the whole world, once again. (A.I., 23, jurist)

We lack ideas and marketing strategies. (S.I., 15 high school student)

Common reality to me and my fellow Romanians, and science fiction to foreigners; hard to find the perfect mix. (C.D., 28, client services)

Romanian film is one of our strong points in our culture now, and it doesn’t get as nearly as much credit as it should. (I.C., 22, medicine student)

It seems that lately, Romanian film has played a part in the Romanian society’s development, and a part in the creation of a dialogue platform with European countries. (C.C., 25, graphic designer)

And finally, where do these Romanians prefer to watch films? Though it’s not so hard to guess that most of the films are being seen on the narrow screen of a laptop or other device of some sort, because of commodity, lack of time, and actual disponibility of the product (it’s not exactly like cinemas would make special screening to satisfy our desires of films, especially if there’s no blockbuster on the top of our list), the answers seem to incline to cinema halls… then why the sudden decrease of cinemas number after 1989? Well, maybe now, after almost 3 decades of a narrow screen, the young people started seeking grand screen experiences.

I enjoy the most watching films in cinemas, the atmosphere is completely different and I get to experience the scenes and characters better, than if I were at home, for example. (A.A., 18, veterinary medicine student)

Cinema, film festivals, home. (C.C., 25, graphic designer)

Home. Probably if I’d choose film watching as a weekend activity, I’d have more chances of actually watching some films more often. (L.B., 23, textile design student)

Cinema, I love the atmosphere that the “big screen” creates. (S.P., 15, high school student)

Since 2015 I go to Cinemateca Eforie (Bucharest), I started by going once a week, but now I only go once or twice a month, and at the Romanian Peasant Museum’s cinema (Bucharest), but only sporadically. I watch Romanian films on Youtube and other sources.

Cinema, film festivals and home. The only cinema in a mall I frequent is Multiplex (Bucharest) – I consider it to have a more visually convenient ratio between the screen’s height and width, which I don’t find in other cinemas from malls. (A.P., 22, Arti History and Theory student)

[…] the only reason I prefer sometimes to go to the cinema is to feel at a higher intensity the film, to connect with the characters, and to gain, why not, a new experience (be it good, or bad, boring or annoying…, a sort of life experience). And when I say experience I not only talk about the film itself, but also about how you can actually be affected and annoyed by some people in the public, or how the one selling tickets can really get on your nerves, after half an hour of arguing over a student discount.

Anyway, I have to admit that the number of films I’ve seen on my own laptop is by far higher than the ones I’ve seen in cinemas. (A.I., 23, jurist)

Nowadays I don’t go to the cinema that much, I prefer watching the films I want to watch at home. There was a time, in high school when I wouldn’t miss a premiere, usually a Romanian film premiere. Unfortunately, my tight schedule doesn’t include this “luxury” anymore… though I started going more often to the theatre lately. (D.A., 23, teacher)

Because of the lack of time, I watch films at home, on my own laptop, though I’m perfectly aware that the cinema would be the ideal place for that. (S.A., 22, dental technician)

To be continued (with different people, in different forms)…

P.S.: A.P was talking about Romanian film on Youtube, so here’s a good, legal and approved Youtube channel for that, CINEPUB

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