“The film tries to reproduce the nostalgia and immobility of those years”
by Stefan Dobroiu
- Andrei Gruzsniczki's Quod Erat Demonstrandum deciphers the many ways in which the individual was oppressed in the communist era.
World-premiered in competition at the 8th Rome International Film Festival, Andrei Gruzsniczki's second feature Quod Erat Demonstrandum [+see also:
interview: Andrei Gruzsniczki
interview: Andrei Gruzsniczki
film profile] explores events from 1984: a mathematician, Sorin Parvu (Sorin Leoveanu) is investigated by the secret police after one of his theorems is published by an American magazine without permission from the communist regime. The director explores in his black and white film the many ways in which the individual was oppressed in the communist era.
Cineuropa: Firstly, let’s discuss the starting point of the film. To what extent is the story inspired by real events?
Andrei Gruzsniczki: I started from a story I knew, dated from those years, of an architect that went to an international congress and never returned. What followed was a true odyssey of the reunion of him and his family. Even though The Socialist Republic of Romania had adhered to all the international treaties on the free movement of citizens, especially the Helsinki Accords, the authorities from Bucharest did their best to stall things. Issuing a passport would sometimes take a few years.
Why did you choose the mathematics field?
Initially, the Parvu character was an engineer. He “became” a mathematician after I read a biography of mathematician Octav Onicescu. When I started writing the script I read a lot about that period. One of the books that interested me was Onicescu's secret police file that contains informative notes about him. The paper reveals the functioning mechanism of the agents who “studied” the individuals, but also the intrusion in their lives (for example, telephonic interceptions that comprised even culinary recipes). Many of the things discovered in these ways are Facebook-like - the information willingly revealed by an individual through online networks. And yes, this makes you think that online networks are the most efficient informing tool for the secret services in our fast-food society. But this is a digression.
Coming back to Onicescu, I noticed that the ones studying him had no idea if their subject had any worth or not. And this was normal because they were not specialized. This meant that the state police, Securitate, had to draw its conclusions with the support of outside specialists, who may have not been dedicated to the regime. This led to never-ending doubts, in a field where the worth of a theory can sometimes cause long debates even between mathematicians. And this means that the notion of value is hard to be organized in a hierarchy. Thus the question: “Who establishes value?” This is how the regime got to the personal file (a file that evaluated a person by means of his or her "healthy origin" - editor's note) that usually substituted personal abilities. Finally, this volatility of hierarchy made me place the character in the mathematics field.
Why did you choose to film in black and white?
Right from the preliminary discussions, both Velvet Moraru, the producer of the film, and Vivi Drăgan Vasile, the DoP, “saw” this film in black and white. I then looked at a series of Romanian films from that era and had a discussion with Cristian Niculescu, the film’s art director. Because my memories of the 80’s are of a grey period, on all levels - costumes, setting, attitude - and because, from a stylistic point of view, the film tries to somewhat reproduce the nostalgia and immobility of those years, it just became obvious that it would be a black and white picture.