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"The soul of the story is extremely authentic"

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Anca Miruna Lazarescu • Director

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- Anca Miruna Lazarescu talks about That Trip We Took with Dad, a deeply personal story inspired by the pan-European misadventures of her father.

Anca Miruna Lazarescu  •  Director

Born in Romania and raised in Germany, Anca Miruna Lazarescu has directed one of the few true Romanian co-productions. Like her short film Silent River, now considered the most-awarded Romanian short ever, That Trip We Took with Dad [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Anca Miruna Lazarescu
film profile
]
explores the unsettling political context that made many Romanians attempt to flee the country during the communist regime. Here is what she has to say about her touching family drama. 

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Cineuropa: What is fact and what is fiction in your film?
Anca Miruna Lazarescu:
The film’s spirit, the soul of the story, is extremely authentic and true. My family largely faced the same situations as the family in the film. The detainee camp looked the same, and they only had a 48-hour visa to transit West Germany. As they had to make the decision very quickly, the pressure was enormous: should we stay in West Germany, or should we go back to Romania? As far as I remember, it was obvious that the decision to return home had deep consequences on our family’s life.

Emil’s character is based on my father, and Neli existed in reality, too. Mihai’s character is based on another member of the family. Actually, every character in the story, even the students from Munich, has a counterpart in reality. I truly needed that when I wrote the screenplay.

What was the main difficulty when turning a family story into a screenplay?
Of course, no true story develops exactly as a screenwriter would want it to. I adapted it so that it went, from an emotional point of view, where I wanted it to. But I tried to change as little as possible, so that it stayed as near to the truth as possible. The most difficult aspect was to walk the very fine line between giving as few background explanations as possible while not losing the audience because of the lack of historical context. Life experiences are often poles apart, and depending on them, the film can be perceived very differently. Nevertheless, I wanted to reach all the viewers, in one way or another. 

What aspect of the finished film was the most satisfying for you?
After a screening in Germany, a woman from the audience approached me with tears in her eyes. She said she would never forget That Trip We Took with Dad, because I, as a director, had deeply understood how it was to live in East Germany. While we were talking, a man came up to us, again with tears in his eyes, saying that he was from Munich and he remembered perfectly the times when his sister lived, as a student, in a collective household. He, too, thanked me for the film, saying I perfectly understood how it was to live in those times in the West. Both of them started talking about their very different pasts. I left them and simply enjoyed the moment.

Have you started working on any new projects? What are they about?
I am working on several projects, and next summer, I hope to start production on a tragicomedy named Happiness Is for Cowards. I have also started research for a period drama about the Bărăgan deportations [when over one night in 1951, approximately 45,000 people of diverse ethnicities were deported by communist decree in the uninhabited middle part of Romania’s largest plain]. Obviously, this is another film manageable only as a European co-production.

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