Love Bus: Five Love Stories from Bucharest, bringing love to Romanian screens
by Stefan Dobroiu
- The omnibus film promotes five young directors
Domestic features are not always popular with Romanian cinemagoers, and short films even less so. The latter are not popular with cinemas either, but new distribution company N-Graphix has found a way to promote young Romanian directors: an omnibus film consisting of five shorts, all commenting on the popular theme of love. Love Bus: Five Love Stories from Bucharest was released last Friday in nine cinemas and may become an effective method for introducing new directors to the audience.
The titles of the five shorts are well-known Bucharest neighbourhoods, and each work starts with images from the respective areas of the city. The best of them, by far, is Drumul Taberei, directed by Mihai Mincan, the only one of the five directors who did not graduate from the National University of Theatre and Film “IL Caragiale” in Bucharest. The main characters (Andrei Seuşan and Iulia Ciochină), two students talking about everyday things in a rented flat, offer mystery, an interesting dynamic and a compelling evolution in the simplest, yet most convincing, of the five shorts in the omnibus.
It is interesting to note that the less ambitious the director, the more effective the story. The fifth short, Cişmigiu, is also impressive, exploring trust and suspicion. Shot in one take by DoP Adrian Coclușneanu, Cişmigiu shows George (Alec Secăreanu) and Andreea (Victoria Răileanu) after making love. Andreea finds a bottle of massage oil in the bathroom and will not be satisfied by George’s explanations of where it came from.
Few cinemagoers will remember Iancului, directed by Roxana Andrei and featuring Alexandra (Ada Galeş) desperately trying to start over with her ex-lover (Cătălin Jugravu). Unirii shows teenager Bobo (Bogdan Zamfir) trying to have sex with his virgin girlfriend (Cătălina Crişan) at a party, but director Florin Babei seems more interested in creating a catchy soundtrack than developing a compelling way to show how cruel young relationships can be.
The most intriguing short is Tineretului, written and directed by Constantin Radu Vasile. It revolves around Ştefan (Ştefan Mircea), who by chance meets the girl he used to like at high school. After a walk in the park, they decide to get together later that day, but Ştefan will soon learn something terrible about the girl’s destiny. Tineretului is the most unconventional of the five shorts, in terms of both technique and storytelling.
Although not without significant flaws, Love Bus introduces a marketing concept that may be appealing for the general public, helping young directors to screen their films in cinemas. Perhaps cinemagoers will not enjoy all of the shorts in an omnibus, but it is without doubt more than the sum of its parts, especially when they all tackle the same topic in a coherent and interesting manner.
Released by N-Graphix, the omnibus was produced by Papillon Film. It had a budget of under €8,000 and no support from the Romanian National Film Center. With no budget for promotion, it was seen by just 330 Romanians during its first weekend in local cinemas.