"There is never a chance for a second take"
by Stefan Dobroiu
- Illegitimate, Adrian Sitaru’s fourth feature, courageously discusses difficult choices and incest; it had its world premiere in the Berlinale Forum.
With the Berlinale-selected and CICAE Award winner Illegitimate [+see also:
interview: Adrian Sitaru
film profile], Romanian director Adrian Sitaru went back to his independent roots: six years after directing his first feature, Hooked [+see also:
interview: Adrian Sitaru
film profile], with an almost non-existent budget, the 44-year-old filmmaker is releasing the very similar Illegitimate. Cineuropa talked to him about the film’s challenges and peculiar approach ahead of its domestic release on 18 March.
Cineuropa: What made you direct this film with independent resources?
Adrian Sitaru: Life itself, and the fact that I didn’t receive a grant from the Romanian National Film Center. Also, the challenge of making a "no budget" film, like Hooked, my first feature. The challenge was not only to make a feature with no money, but also to release it at a big festival and sell it to other territories. I am very glad that I succeeded in repeating this endeavour.
You only did one take for every scene in the film. How do you view this method in terms of creativity? Did it limit or stimulate you?
The concept was not only to do a single take. This came from the fact that I wanted a documentary-like film and a surplus of realism. I realised that the observational documentary film – and, by extension, our life – contains two important elements that I wanted to capture. Firstly, there is never a chance for a second "take" (if we chose to give ourselves this opportunity, we would not "act" the same, or we would become artificial). Secondly, every day, we set small goals and create scenarios for accomplishing them, but no matter the number of scenarios, life intervenes with its surprises and we start to improvise, to make do, in order to reach those goals. This stimulated me, and I can honestly say that I didn’t feel limited by working in this manner. I let life and the actors work for me.
The topic of incest may take the traditionalistic Romanian society by surprise. From the reactions so far, do you think the film’s topic will attract a bigger audience than the average domestic release?
Maybe so. I try not to be subjective, but at the Berlinale, the audience reacted well. People talked about the film, and those who hadn’t seen it told me that others had recommended it to them. Also, the cinema was full, and I bet the Berlinale offers lots of options. We have seen signs that the film will be talked about, and usually that means it’s good for promotion.
Illegitimate was ignored by the National Film Center. What would you say about the possible changes the institution will face this year (read the news)?
The signs are very encouraging, but once again, things are only advancing from a theoretical point of view. There has been plenty of time to implement some changes in the institution’s statute, as the law is apparently harder to amend, and the statute has been theoretically modified for the better, but as it turns out, we have just been informed that the next project contest will take place based on the same old rules and regulations. It is nice that we are meeting and talking often, and that we have good intentions, but the fact that literally nothing changes does not make me feel optimistic. Until we implement grand changes, I would quickly select a judging committee that has film experience, meaning that at least three of its five members have delivered a remarkable film or written a remarkable screenplay in the last few years. I would also remove the same questionable individuals from the Center’s contest committees. This anomaly still existed in a European country in 2015, and I do not think it will be gone by 2016.