The Astra Film Festival spotlights Romanian documentaries
by Vladan Petkovic
- The Sibiu-based gathering has singled out some local titles, and the industry programme has also been revealed
The Astra Film Festival, the 23rd edition of which will unspool from 17-23 October in Sibiu, has detailed its selection of Romanian documentaries and outlined its industry programme.
The local films in the programme take a look at the recent history of the country, its people and their stories. The 11 films are split over several thematic sections, and eight of them will take part in the competition for Romanian documentaries.
In the Self/Family/Society section, A Mere Breath by Monica Lăzurean-Gorgan, the winner of this year's Heart of Sarajevo for Best Documentary (read the news), deals with an ultra-religious family in Copşa Mică, which was the most polluted city in Europe until 2009; Sandra Isabela Țenț's Chat with Alice explores an unusual family of artists; Botond Püsök's Angela reveals the hardships that young women face in the Roma community; and Jesús del Cerro's Spanish-Romanian co-production Pregnant in Romania provides an overview of the situation alluded to in the title, through a series of interviews with (future) mums from all milieus.
In the Refurbished Past section, Alexandru Belc's Cinema Mon Amour [+see also:
interview: Alexandru Belc
film profile] looks into the reasons behind the dire state of the old-system exhibition network, and Maria Șalaru's The Block alternates between the past of a residential area of communist apartment blocks and the daily reality of their inhabitants. A section fully dedicated to the communist past, Communist Faiths, will feature Radu Gabrea's The Red Empress – The Life and Adventures of Ana Pauker, which portrays “the most powerful woman alive”, as TIME magazine called her in 1948, and Dragoș Zămosteanu's God Save the Partisans as We Wait for Americans!, about the phenomenon of the fugitive partisans in the 1940s and 1950s, the main guerrilla group rebelling against the horror of the regime.
The Aromanians section contributes to getting to know the community of Aromanians in the Balkans, featuring the films Armânii, from the Famous Manakia to I’m Not Famous by Toma Enache, The Manakia Brothers. Diary of a Long Look Back by Eliza Zdru, and Torna, torna, fratre! by Marian Voicu.
Finally, the festival will feature the Romanian premiere of the BBC-produced The New Gypsy Kings by Liviu Tipuriță, about the complex phenomenon of the musical style called “manele” and the status of these singers in the country.
As for the industry programme, DocumentaryTank@AFF (20-22 October), a platform dedicated to members of the film industry, will bring together local and European filmmakers in Sibiu for three days of networking, master-class sessions, and presentations about the new trends in documentary film production and distribution.
Romanian Docs in Progress (22 October) is a competition of six works in progress that will be presented to a jury and an audience of local and international professionals. The winners will receive post-production services and other forms of support for completing their projects.