Mammalia to wrap shooting on the last day of October
- Sebastian Mihăilescu’s first feature, which centres on a man without a penis, is being produced by Romania’s microFilm
Following a number of years when minimalist dramas, usually shot in drab apartments, were the norm in Romanian cinema, newcomers seem more and more determined to break new ground, offering unfamiliar and sometimes even whimsical approaches to their art. This seems to be the case for Sebastian Mihăilescu’s first feature, Mammalia [+see also:
film profile] (formerly known by its working title of Double Happiness), which will wrap production on the very last day of October. The project is being produced by Diana Păroiu and Ada Solomon for microFilm (Romania), and co-produced by Ewa Puszczyńska for Extreme Emotions (Poland) and Nina Frese for Pandora Film (Germany).
The screenplay, written by Andrei Epure (also a director whose most recent short, Intercom 15, debuted this year in the Critics’ Week at Cannes) and Mihăilescu himself, focuses on Camil (István Téglás), a troubled young man who wakes up one night without a penis. The nightmare continues when his partner, too, disappears after meeting a former lover. Camil sets out to look for her and, while wearing women’s clothes, reaches a secret community dedicated to fertility, somewhere near a lake. And what he finds there will prove even more disturbing than his recent misadventures…
Mammalia is being shot over 18 days in Bucharest and in Buzău County. The budget amounts to circa €1 million, with approximately €247,000 coming from the Romanian National Film Center. The project was developed within various industry programmes – for example, EAVE Ties That Bind, TorinoFilmLab Extended and When East Meets West. Barbu Bălăşoiu (Sieranevada [+see also:
Q&A: Cristi Puiu
film profile], Charleston [+see also:
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film profile]) is the DoP. Mălina Manovici, Denisa Nicolae, Steliana Bălăcianu, Rolando Matsangos and Mirela Creţan play various characters in the film.
Producer Diana Păroiu tells Cineuropa that Mammalia is something new, both in spirit and in shape. “We’ve set out to create a film with a strong feeling of hyperreality, so all of our creative discussions in the last few months have revolved around the means to be used in order to obtain that feeling. We’re shooting on 16 mm, and we’ve chosen locations which themselves convey an eerie atmosphere, an atmosphere that is heightened by the choice of production design, lighting and special effects. The characters are played by a mix of a professional and non-professional cast, all ready to improvise on the spur of the moment,” the producer says.
Here is how the director describes his approach to the story and its purpose: “This film is a surrealist drama, an incisive exploration of the masculine outlook on life and of the fight against passiveness, against the fear of losing control and balance, against capitulation when faced with overwhelming experiences. Can men make the world a better place? Can men be vulnerable, weak, intuitive, insecure or flexible? Camil feels lessened, illusions grow too obvious to be believed, and he is forced to face up to his own masculinity.”
Mammalia is expected to be delivered by next spring.
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