Sending out powerful emotions
by Vladan Petkovic
- Iulia Rugina’s feature debut, Love Building, won over audiences at the Transylvania Film Festival.
Romanian director Iulia Rugina’s first feature film, Love Building [+see also:
interview: Iulia Rugina
film profile], won over audiences at B’est International Film Festival in Bucharest and at the Transylvania International Film Festival in Cluj-Napoca, and will be released in the territory on September 13. The director talks to Cineuropa about the unusual making of the film and the situation in local distribution and exhibition.
Cineuropa: How did the idea for Love Building come around and how did you work on the film?
Iulia Rugina: Love Building is the result of a private class in film acting, dedicated to amateurs or actors who are interested in acting for film, run by Dragos Bucur, Dorian Boguta and Alexandru Papadopol. Each session of the course lasts for four months and ends with a short film. With Love Building, we decided to put together three groups and instead of three shorts do one feature.
We [Rugina and co-writers Oana Rasuceanu and Ana Agopian] first had to come up with an idea for a story that could include 34 actors and happen with the minimum of financial effort – one location, ten shooting days. So we thought up the idea of the camp. We wrote a short synopsis describing the premise and started to develop the characters. We made a list of all the relationship problems we could think of and then split the problems between the couples. Then we developed each of them and wrote a short bio of themselves and their relationships.
A crowdpleaser like this is very rare in Romanian cinema. Was it your intention to make an audience-friendly film?
I have always thought about the ‘crowd’ when making a film. The films I have made so far were generated by strong emotions that I felt and wanted to share, and I find that the ultimate receptor of those emotions should be the audience. That's what makes me happy as a filmmaker: if my films manage to send out powerful emotions to the audience.
The emotions around Love Building are positive – bittersweet, if you like. After all, it is about love, falling into it, falling out of it, relationships, things we have all experienced on different levels. It's easy to relate to it and, with its very uplifting mood, with comedy accents and beautiful people, it's likely to be a crowd-pleaser.
Do you think there is potential in Romanian cinema to make more accessible films and increase local box office?
I honestly think that Romanian cinema can take a turn to a direction not yet explored: audience-friendly films, comedies, uplifting and relaxing, the Saturday night / Sunday afternoon type of films. I think Romanian audience needs that, as we now have two extremes – the artistically valuable, complex and appreciated films by the Romanian New Wave and the very low-quality sitcom type of comedies. There is no middle ground and therefore the gap between the two is sometimes too large.
I think the Romanian audience needs film education. You can't just expect them to jump from being in front of the TV (where they watch tabloid-like shows and crappy soap operas) and appreciate films such as 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days [+see also:
interview: Cristian Mungiu
interview: Oleg Mutu
film profile] or Police, Adjective [+see also:
interview: Corneliu Porumboiu
film profile]. The general Romanian audience is neither stupid nor ultra-intellectual, but it is an audience that sometime refuses to go to the cinema to watch a Romanian film, just because it's Romanian. I think if this changes, if the Romanian audience gains confidence in the entertainment side of Romanian film, then there are chances for theatres to be full again for local films. And that may just as well trigger a snowball effect on both production and distribution.
What is your next project?
I am now in post-production with a short film produced by Actoriedefilm.ro, the same acting school that produced Love Building and starring nine of the actors who also played in the feature film.
And then there is my long time feature film project, Breaking News, produced by Libra Film, which I hope we manage to shoot this winter. It was supposed to be my debut film, but as, sometimes life just goes ahead of us and we just follow, Love Building ended up being the first.
Breaking News is aesthetically and story-wise almost an opposite of Love Building - it's set in winter, in a frozen environment and explores the darkness and torment of the human soul. It is the dark side of my personality and I am looking forward to getting that out too.