Ivana Mladenovic in post-production with Soldiers. A Story from Ferentari
by Stefan Dobroiu
- The groundbreaking project is one of the very few LGBT-focused features coming from Romania
After sparking some healthy controversy with Radu Jude’s Aferim! [+see also:
interview: Radu Jude
film profile], Romanian producer Ada Solomon has a new occasion to discuss a groundbreaking topic with Ivana Mladenovic’s first fiction feature, Soldiers. A Story from Ferentari. The Hi Film Production project is now in post-production. The co-producing companies are Film House Bas Celik (Serbia) and Frakas Productions (Belgium).
Based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Adrian Schiop, the screenplay was written by Mladenovic and Schiop. It centres on Adi, a young anthropologist writing his PhD thesis about the manele, the music of the Roma community. To get closer to the topic, Adi moves to Ferentari, the Roma neighbourhood in Bucharest. He feels like an intruder in a world governed by different rules, but his attraction to Alberto, a thirty-something “local” ex-convict, will represent both a step forward and a challenge in Adi’s life.
The €650,000 project was shot last summer in the titular neighbourhood. Soldiers can boast an unheard-of itinerary of an author/character in Romanian cinema, as Adrian Schiop not only wrote the book and co-wrote the screenplay, but also plays a fictionalised version of himself in the film. Alberto is played by non-professional actor Vasile Pavel.
Solomon tells Cineuropa that the film’s purpose is to show how two very different worlds attempt to synchronise, without prejudice and without saying if one is better than the other. Mladenovic says she wanted to make a documentary-fiction hybrid inspired by Ferentari, even before reading Schiop’s book. “I wanted to explore this world, and Adrian’s idea of it was very similar to mine. For four years, I have been directing documentaries inspired by the Romanian prisons, so Soldiers came as a natural extension of my previous work,” she says.