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KARLOVY VARY 2015 Competition

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Box: An intriguing parallelism

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- KARLOVY VARY 2015: Florin Şerban explores the similitude between theatre and boxing with this touching love story

Box: An intriguing parallelism
A promotional image for Box

Five years after winning the Berlinale’s Jury Grand Prix and the Alfred Bauer Award with his first feature, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ada Condeescu
film profile
]
, Florin Şerban is showing Box [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, his second directorial effort, in the competition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (3-11 July). It is an interesting and intriguing exploration of two seemingly very different vocations, but it is also a touching love story.

From the very beginning, the film focuses on its two very different protagonists. One is Cristina (Hilda Péter from Peter Strickland’s debut feature, Katalin Varga [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Interview Peter Strickland - Director …
film profile
]
), a 30-year-old actress and mother. The other is Rafael (Rafael Florea), a 19-year-old boxer who lives with his grandfather in a poor neighbourhood of Sibiu. It is hard to find worlds more different than these, and Şerban (who was also the screenwriter) convincingly makes these two universes collide in a search for the possibility of love.

He also draws an intriguing parallel between theatre and boxing. Cristina is shown rehearsing a new play and being bullied by its director (Cătălin Mitulescu, the director of Loverboy [+see also:
trailer
interview: Ada Condeescu
film profile
]
and Şerban’s writing partner for If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle). Meanwhile, Rafael is bullied by his new coach (Narcis Romulus Dobrin). Both protagonists need perfect control of their bodies, and Şerban shows, with the help of cinematographer Marius Panduru, how rhythm and choreography are equally important for Cristina and Rafael, regardless of the different contexts of their movements.

In addition to the visual exploration of the similarities between the two professions, Box is a quiet and surprising search for understanding and love. Both cornered in their lives, one by a selfish husband more famous in his acting career (Sorin Leoveanu from Roma winner Quod Erat Demonstrandum [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Andrei Gruzsniczki
interview: Andrei Gruzsniczki
festival scope
film profile
]
), the other by an indifferent grandfather (Nicolae Motrogan), Cristina and Rafael find unexpected windows to one another, and together, they conquer a territory no one would have believed they could make theirs.

Love stories are so rare in Romanian cinema that Şerban breaks new ground with this touching couple. There is so much innocence in their quiet, almost reluctant approach that the audience feels no judgement towards the fact that Cristina is cheating on her husband. She and Rafael are simply two lost souls who find each other against all odds.

In If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, Şerban introduced George Piştereanu, and for Box he has discovered Rafael Florea, the film’s most convincing presence despite him being a non-professional actor. In fact, the director surrounds his male protagonist with non-professional actors, thereby exacerbating the dangerous, untamed aspects of Rafael’s life. Florea is the big discovery of Box and a talent to remember.

The film is produced by Fantascope, and co-produced by augenschein Filmproduktion (Germany) and MPM Film (France), with support from the Romanian National Film Center and Eurimages. The Match Factory handles the international sales.

Box will be released domestically this autumn.

See also

Jihlava
San Sebastián Full
Focal Production Value
 

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