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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Romania / Germany / Serbia

Octav Chelaru to start production for first feature, Balaur, in August


- The drama centres on an affair between a Religious Education teacher and one of her students

Octav Chelaru to start production for first feature, Balaur, in August
Director Octav Chelaru

Following several promising short films, Romanian director Octav Chelaru is ready to start production on his first feature, Balaur (working title; the word means “dragon”). The film is being staged by Romanian production company deFilm, with Radu Stancu and Livia Rădulescu serving as producers, in co-production with 42Film (Germany, producers Eike Goreczka and Christoph Kukula) and Serbian outfit Eed Productions (producers Vladimir Vasiljevic and Maja Popovic).

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The screenplay, written by Chelaru, follows Ecaterina (Mălina Manovici), a 35-year-old RE teacher in a provincial town, who begins a relationship with 16-year-old Iuliu (Sergiu Smerea), one of her students. Iuliu will soon start confessing his sins to the town priest (Alexandru Papadopol), who is actually Ecaterina’s husband.

Shooting will start on 10 August in the provincial town of Râmnicu Vâlcea and is expected to wrap 25 days later. The budget amounts to circa €800,000, with approximately €350,000 coming from the Romanian National Film Center. Richard Bovnoczki, Ana Maria Moldovan, Marian Râlea and Gabriel Spahiu play supporting characters in the film. Barbu Bălăşoiu (Sieranevada [+see also:
film review
Q&A: Cristi Puiu
film profile
) is the DoP.

Producer Radu Stancu tells Cineuropa that the entire budget for unexpected expenditures, of around €40,000, will be invested in observing the safety measures established by the Romanian authorities for film production in the times of the pandemic.

Here is how Chelaru describes his first feature: “We have a thriller-like structure that hides a few big questions beneath it, which a lot of people might have asked once or twice in their lifetime. One of them is about the existence of evil. Sometimes, when people do things that they later regret, they blame the devil for tempting them. But it is seldom anything other than an excuse. However, while the devil might or might not exist, evil surely does. It’s often right there at the core of a society, and everybody gets immersed in it, whether they want to or not. It’s impossible to break away, as it always reappears and reshuffles, like in folk tales when you cut off one head of the monster and two others grow back again. The question our story asks is: why does it appear? And in trying to answer that, it looks for this evil in the space that’s left unfilled in between human beings.”

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