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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Romania

First-time director Eugen Jebeleanu finishes LGBTQ+ drama Poppy Field

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- The story, written by Ioana Moraru, follows a closeted gay gendarme whose life spins out of control after a homophobic protest

First-time director Eugen Jebeleanu finishes LGBTQ+ drama Poppy Field
Conrad Mericoffer and Radouan Leflahi in Poppy Field

After forging a career as a theatre director, Romania's Eugen Jebeleanu is moving into film directing with his first feature, Poppy Field [+see also:
film review
interview: Eugen Jebeleanu
film profile
]
, a story about a closeted gay gendarme who is threatened with exposure at a homophobic protest. The 100% Romanian film was produced by Velvet Moraru through Icon Production, and co-produced by Motion Picture Management, represented by Rodrigo Ruiz Tarazona Diaz and Cornelia Popa, and Cutare Film, represented by Cosmin Fericean.

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The screenplay, written by Ioana Moraru, centres on a closeted gay gendarme, Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer), who tries to keep his sexual preferences a secret, as he works in an extremely macho and chauvinistic public institution. While his long-distance French boyfriend Hadi (Radouan Leflahi) is visiting him in Bucharest, Cristi is called out on mission to a movie theatre, where a homophobic group has interrupted the screening of an LGBTQ+ film. When a protester threatens to out him, Cristi’s life spirals out of control.

The film’s budget amounts to circa €930,000. The Romanian National Film Center supported the picture with approximately €200,000. Poppy Field also received support from the Creative Europe – MEDIA programme. The film was shot over 16 days in February and March 2019. The DoP is Marius Panduru, while other significant characters are played by Alexandru Potocean, Cendana Trifan, Ionuţ Niculae, Alex Călin and Rolando Matsangos.

Jebeleanu, who is Romania's only openly gay director, says that the main driving force behind his artistic endeavour is “to give voice to vulnerable individuals and put under scrutiny the way in which society tends to vilify the idea of being different”. Poppy Field is actually inspired by an event that took place in reality, when a screening of the US film The Kids Are All Right was interrupted by an ultra-conservative group. There is yet another recent Romanian feature inspired by this event: Dan Chişu’s 5 Minutes Too Late [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
.

About his protagonist's personal itinerary, Jebeleanu says: “Trying to adjust to the heteronormative requirements of his milieu, he embodies the conflict and the vulnerabilities of many LGBTQ+ people, from Romania or elsewhere. In other words, the social frame of the story triggers the inner conflict of the main character and forces him to take a good look at himself in his attempt to regain his balance.”

Poppy Field is being handled internationally by German world sales company Patra Spanou Film. It will be released domestically in 2021.

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