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Oana Giurgiu to explore WWII heroic deeds in Occasional Spies


- The Romanian director’s new documentary focuses on the little-known missions of Jewish soldiers in Eastern Europe

Oana Giurgiu to explore WWII heroic deeds in Occasional Spies
Director Oana Giurgiu (right) and Niva Yaron, the daughter of Ricu Lupescu, one of the film's protagonists

After winning a Gopo Award for Best Documentary in 2016 with Aliyah DaDa [+see also:
film profile
, Romanian director-producer Oana Giurgiu is now in pre-production with a new documentary feature, Occasional Spies. The Libra Film project focuses on the heroic deeds (and their consequences) of a group of Palestinian Jews originating from Eastern Europe, who in 1943 volunteered to go back to their countries of origin, now occupied by Germany, in order to help the Allied offensive.

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The €300,000 project received approximately €140,000 from the Romanian National Film Center. Libra Film is the sole producer for now, but Giurgiu wants to attract co-production partners from Israel, Hungary or Slovakia. Production is expected to start in October. Giurgiu says she will shoot over a long period of time, until the spring of 2018, simultaneously editing the new material. Post-production is expected to wrap in May next year.

Giurgiu tells Cineuropa that she is interested in what she calls “little histories”, those “simple, personal stories, which are to be found behind the ‘great heroic deeds’, as important moments in the history of a people are often described. In my film, the ‘Big History’ will be built from personal stories.” The director will start from interviews with the descendants of several Palestinian Jews who were parachuted into Romania, Yugoslavia, Slovakia and Austria during the Second World War, helping the local resistance to fight the German invaders. Essential episodes in the volunteers’ deeds will be re-enacted with actors, but in the film, the re-enactments will be used only as still pictures.

“The movie deals with courage and how young patriots’ idealism is used during war. I also want to follow the psychological traumas caused by their trials and how these traumas take their toll on the following generations,” Giurgiu also says.

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