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Tudor Giurgiu • Director of Parking

“I wanted to play with a culture clash”


- We met up with Transilvania International Film Festival president Tudor Giurgiu, whose new film, Parking, opened this year’s edition of the gathering

Tudor Giurgiu  • Director of Parking
(© Cornel Lazia)

In his latest movie, Parking [+see also:
film review
interview: Tudor Giurgiu
film profile
, chosen as the opening film of the 18th edition of the Transilvania International Film FestivalTudor Giurgiu focuses on Adrian (Mihai Smarandache), a Romanian immigrant living a car park somewhere in the dusty outskirts of Cordoba. The aspiring poet soon finds his peaceful existence interrupted by the energetic Maria (Belén Cuesta), and his past slowly catches up with his present.

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Cineuropa: Even though your protagonist is Transylvanian, Parking is set in Spain. How did you end up there?
Tudor Giurgiu:
 It all started with the novel [Marin Mălaicu-Hondrari’s Closeness]. It touched me deeply – it’s very melancholic and tender. I decided to meet the writer, and getting to know his life story was even more inspiring because I realised that the main character was really his alter ego. In 2002, when Romania wasn’t even in the EU yet, he decided to go away, too. With €20 in his pocket, he said: “I want to reinvent myself.” He had read stories about [Chilean writer] Roberto Bolaño doing the same thing in Spain, going through all of these odd jobs, so he walked around Cordoba until he reached this car park where we ended up shooting. These are the kinds of stories that trigger me to make films because you learn something about yourself along the way. I would never be able to do something like that. So it was a personal journey for me, too, trying to understand this man. 

This idea of “reinventing yourself” has become a very familiar, romanticised trope. But you are very cynical about it sometimes. 
Shooting in Spain could have been such a disaster – I could have played right into all of the stereotypes. But instead, we are showing the outskirts of the city, focusing on rough conditions and not trying to romanticise his experience. This guy is not leaving his home and his family in order to make money. He needs it, of course, but he wants to learn Spanish in order to be able to read all the literary greats [laughs]. For me, he is almost an anti-hero, which gave us some headaches while writing the script, but it also turned out to be a rather welcome challenge.

You find humour in little moments that could almost be considered offensive, like when he comes across some thieves only to discover they are his fellow countrymen. Was that important to you?
I know that in some countries, Romanians have a bad reputation. Adrian couldn’t be the only immigrant in Spain – there are many more. I thought it would be fun to play with that, twisting these clichés a little. But yes, I felt the need to insert a bit of humour into the story because it deals with the idea of failure and people in crisis, both personal and professional. I was afraid it might become too dark and depressing otherwise.

Every character in your film is such a dreamer. It’s almost as if they live in some kind of alternate reality, waiting for the bubble to burst. 
I consider myself as an eternal dreamer, too. I thought it would be great to show that people of that age are still building sandcastles sometimes. I talked to the actors about this Chekhovian dimension of the characters – in his plays, everything is falling apart, but they are still convinced that they will be able to start a new chapter in Moscow. I wanted to give this story a fairy-tale feel, imagining this car park like the end of the world or some kind of limbo. But most of all, I wanted to make something clear because it’s something I really believe in: your past always haunts you, and you can’t run away from it. We may think that we can just leave everything and go, but it’s just in our heads.

Does showing your film here, at your own festival, add some extra pressure?
We talked about it with artistic director Mihai Chirilov. He convinced me to show the movie because the audience already knows me – I was born here, and I still feel this need to give something back to the city, even though Parking is not exactly the kind of crowd-pleaser that people might expect from me. It’s a trickier, much more challenging film. But I was very happy with their response, also because it’s not a film about immigration. Being an immigrant, a stranger in some foreign culture, is an important subtext of the movie, but I didn’t want to focus just on this one thing. You have this Transylvanian guy going abroad, and people here are usually very shy – then he’s suddenly surrounded by all of these exuberant Andalusians. I wanted to play with this culture clash.

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