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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Romania / Bulgaria

Adrian Voicu in post-production with first feature Capturing Sami

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- The film is based on the director's own experience when he was arrested during violent protests in Bucharest in 2012

Adrian Voicu in post-production with first feature Capturing Sami
Yann Verburgh and Nicoleta Lefter in Capturing Sami

After directing two documentaries and winning several awards with his most recent short, The Last Trip to the Seaside, Romanian director Adrian Voicu is currently in post-production with his fiction debut, Capturing Sami. The drama is being staged by Romanian outfit Axel Film, represented by Marcian Lazăr (who is also the producer of Immaculate [+see also:
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, the first Romanian feature to win the Best Debut Film Award in Venice), and by Bulgarian production company Contrast Films, represented by Katya Trichkova.

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The screenplay, written by Voicu, focuses on Sami (Yann Verburgh), a visual artist who shoots everything that captures his interest. One night, while thousands of people are protesting in Bucharest against a controversial change in the national health system, Sami attends a party where the same protests are the subject of an impromptu performance. As the event soon seems devoid of substance to Sami, the protagonist decides to go to the real protests. Here, he is surrounded by gendarmes who force him into a van where he witnesses terrifying violence against an innocent man.

The film’s budget amounts to circa €600,000, with approximately €272,000 coming from the Romanian National Film Center. The Bulgarian National Film Center also supported the project. The shoot took place in Bucharest over 24 days scattered between the end of January and mid-March. Krum Rodriguez, one of Bulgaria’s most sought-after DoPs, was in charge of the film’s cinematography. Nicoleta Lefter, Marius Cordoș, Rolando Matsangos, Valentin Terente and Simona Măicănescu play supporting characters in the film.

We asked producer Marcian Lazăr if there is a coincidence that both Immaculate and Capturing Sami centre on a protagonist having a difficult relationship with the Romanian authorities. “In both films I was interested in the itinerary of the main characters, their relationship with those around them, their struggles and the decision they take. The relationship with the state is more of a pretext, it is secondary. But in Capturing Sami this interaction between the state and the individual is very important for Sami. That night will change him forever,” the producer explains. Lazăr also says that Voicu found ingenious ways to show the protests on-screen, using “both actors and archival footage.”

The director tells Cineuropa that he envisioned his film as “a dialogue between fiction and reality.” “I wrote the screenplay after interiorising what happened to me during the protests, which generated an experience even more intense than the actual event. I noticed that the hate people feel for each other is caused by their inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality. (…) We operate on certainties, without sieving through the information we receive. Our total belief in an opinion we reach instantly and the discourse based on slogans will always push us towards conflict and strife,” the director says.

Capturing Sami will be domestically released in 2023.

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