Filmmakers protest against the closure of cinemas in Bucharest
by Stefan Dobroiu
- Cristian Mungiu is among those who deplore the consequences of a new earthquake law
Four cinemas in Bucharest have already suspended, or will suspend, their activities following a new law prohibiting public activities held in buildings with an earthquake risk. Although Bucharest doesn’t lack screens to the same extent that other Romanian cities and towns do, the law has very serious consequences for the filmmaking community, as these old cinemas are virtually the only venues for film festivals and the first screenings of European and Romanian movies in the capital.
Palme d’Or-winning director Cristian Mungiu and Golden Bear-winning producer Ada Solomon are among those who have been vocal about the indifference with which the Romanian authorities hurried to close the cinemas without offering a viable alternative or at least a clear strategy for opening new arthouse theatres in Bucharest.
Today, Mungiu has sent an open letter to new Minister of Culture Vlad Alexandrescu asking him when cinema – probably the best cultural business card that Romania has to show off to the rest of the world – will be granted the attention it deserves by the local government. “What should we do in order to become a priority?” asks Mungiu, recalling how he fought against the disastrous situation for film distribution in the Romanian provinces, where hundreds of cinemas were turned into bars, clubs and shops, leaving many towns without a single big screen.
“In 2007, seeing as I could not show the film with which I had won a Palme d’Or, because there were no cinemas where I could screen it, I organised a film caravan – as they did when cinema first began – and I travelled around the country. I hoped that my initiative would become an example and that the authorities would understand the situation and take measures (…). We cannot compensate for the lack of infrastructure, and we cannot compensate for the government’s lack of initiative,” says Mungiu in his letter, summing up with a bitter “It’s not fair.”