"The relationship between children and divorced parents"
by Stefan Dobroiu
- About family, ridicule and how to get lost in translation (and also in the Romanian way of film-making) with Everybody in Our Family.
Cineuropa : When did Marius, the protagonist in Everybody in Our Family [+see also:
interview: Radu Jude
film profile], come into your mind? Did any real person inspire you?
Radu Jude: The main character comes from a short film named Alexandra, which I did in 2007. Because of certain circumstances in my life, I wanted to go back to the relationship between children and divorced parents and make a new story about it (like Truffaut did with the Antoine Doinel series). I chose to keep only the main actor, Serban Pavlu. The character has a mixed origin: he has something from Pavlu, something from me (the qualities!), something from people I and Corina Sabau, the co-writer, have met, something from characters of Chekhov, Raymond Carver and William Saroyan, something from Mircea Daneliuc's hysterical protagonists, something from the hundreds of average joes who rave self-pitily on the online forums for divorcees, something from Andrei Butica, who is the film's DoP and also the screenplay consultant.
Everybody in Our Family is filled with untranslatable gags. Do you believe your film will be understood in the same way by non-Romanian audiences?
It’s true that the film depends a whole deal on words and language, it’s very much a ‘spoken’ feature. Furthermore, we have always tried to find the most appropriate words for the dialogue. We wanted to precisely outline the present mode of speaking in Romania and use words that both facilitate and clog the communication between the characters. Moreover, the way our language sounds in certain situations drives things into incredibly ridiculous events, and the search for these ridiculous events is one of the film’s main themes. So, obviously they’re lost in translation, especially as we had to seriously contract the text for our English subtitles to make it shorter. That’s how it is!
It happens elsewhere as well: Eugene Ionesco tried almost in vain to translate Ion Luca Caragiale into French, and one of my favorite movies, A City of Sadness, directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien is, from what I’ve read, spoken in several Chinese dialects and other languages and apparently that makes it very special! But that film is pretty impressive even to someone who can’t detect these details.
What do you think is the biggest problem Romanian cinema faces today? And its biggest advantage?
This is a complex issue. Firstly, because the projects are publicly financed and the National Film Centre still functions in a chaotic manner, the proof of this being the rejection of Touch Me Not, Adina Pintilie’s entry in the last session despite the awards and recognition she garnered for her previous shorts and documentaries. The financing, however, was given to people with zero directorial activity. It’s stupid and shameful. Secondly, there is definitely a distribution problem, as there are no decent cinemas anywhere outside the big cities and these only showcase American films.
Romanian moviegoers tend to ignore local productions, what do you believe can be done to improve the attendance?
The wider audience also tends to ignore European productions, the wider audience is not interested in good Romanian literature either. Romania is a poor country, people have so many problems! I don’t know what the solution is. Probably a more serious investment in cultural education, an issue that is generally overseen by the disastrous Romanian educational system. And maybe it is the time to understand that there are two types of films, one for general audiences and one for those interested in arthouse cinema. You don’t go to a nouvelle cuisine restaurant to order Romanian sausages or to McDonald’s to eat sushi!
Do you have a new project?
I hope that during summer I will be able to shoot a new short, Like a Shadow of a Cloud. It's about a priest from Bucharest who must hear a dying woman's last confession. I write the screenplay together with Florin Lazarescu and we also write a costume drama about the beginning of the 19th century, inspired by the absurd law of those times. I would love to re-create that era’s every detail of ordinary life, I think this one of the great things that cinema can do.