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SAN SEBASTIÁN 2021 Competition

Alina Grigore • Director of Blue Moon

"I was the only girl in my village who was able to pursue further education"

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- The writer-director chatted with Cineuropa about dysfunctional families, going back to her village with an education, and the difference between a psychological rhythm and logical storytelling

Alina Grigore • Director of Blue Moon
(© SSIFF/Álex Abril)

Blue Moon [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alina Grigore
film profile
]
, which has just screened in competition at the San Sebastián Film Festival, tells the story of a dysfunctional family that runs a hotel in a mountainous area of Romania. If the crazy antics of the family were not enough to get Irina depressed, one day, she wakes up realising that someone has slept with her the night before, and she can't remember if the encounter with the married actor was consensual or not. Their relationship develops in surprising ways. We spoke to director Alina Grigore.

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Cineuropa: What inspired you to make a film about a girl returning to her village to deal with her dysfunctional family?
Alina Grigore: First of all, it was from my childhood. I think I was the only girl in my village who was able to pursue further education. Some of the girls weren't even able to go to high school. So 15 years later, I went back to the village and I thought the situation would have changed, that things would be better. And I was pretty surprised to find out that in 2021, it is the same thing. And that was, of course, important for me.

The film has a unique rhythm. Where did that come from?
I talked to a couple of girls in the village. I realised that when they were telling me stories, there wasn't a precise storyline. There was a storyline of emotions. When I was listening, I sensed a storyline of feelings. I asked myself who's seeing the film, and it was important for me for it to be a film of emotions. I still don't know if the storyline is precise, but the hope is that the storyline of a victim becoming an aggressor is visible.

You say victim becoming aggressor, but isn't it the case that it's the only way she can be heard?
Yes. In Romania, together with my husband, we have an obsession with the way the mind works on stage. It's why I like Chekov so much. I used to be an actress and we developed a method of working together on the character. I encouraged the actors to find common memories, understand the mechanism for memories and do this work together. So we worked for two years. I wanted to give actors the room to create together and find a solution in one shot, which normally slows down the rhythm, and we wanted to avoid that.

Do you think society works to force the character to work in a way that some people would call crazy?
I think nowadays we would all know that we're all crazy. It's not about the societies, I feel, but little communities. It's the idea of being part of a social group, the push to be a part of a group that creates a problem. We're unable as a society to connect and be honest. Our principles and our morals, whatever you like, it's pretty much ripping us apart.

How is it to make a film where it's an emotional rather than logical journey?
I was very conscious that we would have to fight for that. We kept saying it's a psychological journey. When I was listening to the girls telling me stories in the village, nothing was connected. We tried to reflect her internal expression through the camera work, using depth of field and blurring.

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