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LOCARNO 2017 Competition

Andrei Creţulescu • Director

“I wanted to show the Bucharest that no longer exists”


- LOCARNO 2017: Cineuropa chatted with Andrei Creţulescu, who is presenting his stylish feature debut, Charleston

Andrei Creţulescu • Director
(© Locarno Festival/Sailas Vanetti)

With his feature debut, Charleston [+see also:
film review
interview: Andrei Creţulescu
film profile
, Andrei Creţulescu offers a departure from the usual bleak Romanian cinema. We asked him about the the current needs of the Romanian film industry and the challenges of making his first feature-length film, which brings new elements to the so-called Romanian New Wave. The film is having its world premiere in the International Competition of the 70th Locarno Film Festival.

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Cineuropa: After making several shorts, what was the most challenging aspect of writing and directing your first two-hour long feature-length film?
Andrei Creţulescu: In a way, the answer is encompassed by the question itself... The development stage takes longer and involves at the very least the writing of a synopsis, if not a full treatment, which helps you to find the right rhythm for the story and to give your ideas about the plot and the characters as a whole some structure. But once you know everything there is to know about your story, and once you can actually visualise the whole film in front of your eyes, the rest is easy. It’s just a matter of writing it all down. And the directing part is my favourite part.

You spent four years making the film. Does the finished Charleston still resemble the idea you had in mind when you first started developing it?
This takes me back to my previous answer - yes, the Charleston that people will see in cinemas is the Charleston I had in mind before actually writing the script. Of course, some things inherently changed along the way, but the story and the characters have remained the same. They look the same and they talk in the same way that they did back in 2013, when I finished the script. And, luckily I have managed to cast the actors I was hoping to cast. The only casting call we had was for the protagonist’s black cat. But even the cat that we ended up choosing turned out to be exactly like the character cat that I wrote.

Bucharest looks very different in Charleston than in other Romanian films. Did you plan to show an appealing, neat, welcoming city from the very beginning, instead of the bleak capital we usually see in Romanian films?
I wouldn’t call it appealing or neat, though I guess it is, in a way. In my mind, I like to call it classy, intellectual and bohemian. I wanted to show the Bucharest that no longer exists, minus some small exceptions. My characters don’t really belong in the Bucharest of today, so the story takes place exclusively in the old neighbourhoods of the city: in turn-of-the-century houses, public gardens, chic pubs, etc. The Bucharest that I grew up in and love is in bad shape, which pains me a lot. That’s why I chose to add a related sub-plot to the main story.

There is an ongoing and very animated debate in Romania about a new film law. As a first-time director of a feature-length film, what is, in your opinion, the most urgent issue that updated legislation should take care of in the Romanian film landscape?
Cinemas. Multiplexes are great, don’t get me wrong, but I miss going to see a film in a traditional, old-fashioned cinema. I want my film to be seen by as many people as possible.

Are you developing a new feature? Can you tell us what it’s about?
I have two feature projects on the go, both in the development stage and both extremely violent. I’ll say that, by comparison, my “bloody” shorts Kowalski and Ramona will look like fairytales.

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