Daniel Sandu in post-production with his first feature, One Step behind the Seraphim
by Stefan Dobroiu
- The Hi Film Productions project explores the experiences of several teenagers studying to become priests
Romanian filmmaker Daniel Sandu, who has received a flurry of awards for his short film Horsepower, is currently in post-production with his first feature, One Step behind the Seraphim. With Hi Film Productions as the sole production company, the €850,000 project is expected to wrap in January 2017.
The film is inspired by Sandu’s own experiences during the five years he spent in an Orthodox high school meant to prepare youngsters for the Theology Faculty, and then priesthood. The story is told through the eyes of Gabriel (Ştefan Iancu), a 15-year-old boy who wants to become a priest and is admitted to the specialised high school. He befriends three colleagues, but their connection with an older, difficult student, Olah (Ilie Dumitrescu Badea), will bring them to the attention of Father Ivan (Vlad Ivanov), a priest willing to expel all those who do not observe the ultra-strict rules of the establishment.
The film was shot in September 2015, February 2016 and May 2016 in Bucharest and the city of Focşani, with George Dăscălescu serving as DoP. The screenplay was written by Sandu, with young actors Ali Amir, Alfred-Victor Wegeman and Ştefan Mihai playing other important parts.
Sandu told Cineuropa that his film is not against the Orthodox Church, an institution that is still the most popular social entity in Romania (almost 60% of the participants in a survey from November 2015 said they trusted the Church), but is rather “a film about youngsters, about finding oneself, about coming of age, about choices and the price of those choices in a medium whose degree of spiritual purity is supposed to be greater than in other places”. Sandu considers his feature an invitation to a “production line”, where the characters of young students are moulded in order to prepare them for becoming one of the most influential figures in their community.
The film is expected to be released domestically in 2017. It already has a world sales company attached – namely, Paris-based Indie Sales.