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Cristi Iftime • Director

"I wanted to make a film in the present tense, but permeated by a certain nostalgia"

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- KARLOVY VARY 2017: Cineuropa caught up with Romanian director Cristi Iftime, who is showing his first feature, Mariţa, in Karlovy Vary’s East of the West competition

Cristi Iftime  • Director

Following a number of short films that were screened at several festivals, including Berlin and Cannes, Cristi Iftime makes his feature debut with Mariţa [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Cristi Iftime
film profile
]
, a family drama/road movie that brings a gust of very cool air from the snow-capped Romanian mountains to the East of the West competition of the 52nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (30 June–8 July). Here is what Iftime has to say about his feature and its challenges, but also about being a first-time director in Romania. Mariţa will be released domestically in autumn.

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Cineuropa: Mariţa was initially a short-film project. How did it become a feature?
Cristi Iftime:
I considered that the parts of the main characters deserved to be, and could be, developed into a feature format.

Is your film inspired by real events? How did you work with Anca Buja while writing the screenplay?
It is inspired by real events to the same degree as my other films. But in the case of Mariţa, the core of the real-life observations we based our story on ended up being highly fictionalised. Anca and I work so well together that we didn’t need any particular system or working method. We each wrote what we thought we were best at.

Among other aspects, the film is also impressive thanks to the actors’ performances. How did you manage to get pitch-perfect acting even with takes lasting up to nine minutes?
The praise should go first and foremost to the actors. All I did was to insist on rehearsing and rehearsing – and then rehearsing some more.

What was the most challenging aspect of this project?
I wanted to make a film in the present tense, but permeated by a certain nostalgia; a continuous referral to past events, but without using flashbacks. This proved to be the most difficult aspect. The challenges thrown up by directing and the joy of shooting in the middle of nowhere mostly distracted me from the ever-present practical issues.

The old Romanian cinema law doesn’t favour first-time filmmakers and producers. What is the first update you would make to the law?
A film industry should be as diverse and as alive as possible, and this only happens when the formation of new voices is permanently encouraged. That’s why I think that the Romanian National Film Center should organise project competitions for first- and second-time directors.

Are you preparing a new feature? What is it about?
I am currently editing a short film called Pimples on the Chest and developing a feature about a totally free man who loses a number of fights against those close to him and ultimately must face the possibility of losing his freedom.

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