Balkans again bask in the spotlight at Cannes Film Festival
A number of regional filmmakers and actors won awards and nominations at the latest edition of the prestigious film festival in Cannes.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest – 16/06/08
Romanian cinema won an award at the Cannes International Film Festival for the second consecutive year, with Marian Muresan's "Megatron" taking the Palme D'Or for Best Short Film. The 31-year-old director said that he expected an award, because the jury and the audiences were attracted to the movie.
"I expected it somehow. I believed we had some chance to win," Muresan said of his film, which beat out eight others. This is the third Palme D'Or for a Romanian short film, after Ion Popescu Gopo's "A Brief History" and Catalin Mitulescu's "Traffic". Muresan has already participated in several international competitions with his films "The Amateur", "Family Portrait" and "Happy Birthday".
The 15-minute-long "Megatron" tells the story of an eight-year-old village boy who goes with his mother to a Bucharest McDonald's for his birthday. Once in Bucharest, the boy looks for his father. The story -- depicting a journey to Bucharest that slowly turns into a journey in search of a father -- has only two characters, the boy and the mother, played by Maxim Trinu and Gabriela Crisu. The movie premiered in Romania at the 7th Transylvania International Film Festival.
The Best Director award went to Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan for his family drama, "Three Monkeys". This is Ceylan's third award at the French festival after he received the 2003 Jury Grand Prize for "Distant" and the 2006 FIPRESCI Movie Critics' Award for "Climates", according to the Turkish Daily News.
"I am dedicating this prize to my lonely and beautiful country, which I passionately love," he said after receiving the prize from actress Faye Dunaway. "The film is about life, about one's inner world, about many things," explained Ceylan, director of six films so far.
The International Critics' Week Grand Prize went to Bosnian director Aida Begic's first film, "Snow", a Bosnia and Herzegovina-Germany-France-Iran co-production. It deals with the aftermath of a Balkan war in an isolated and conflict-ravaged mountainous village.
Last but not least, Kosovo-born actress Arta Dobroshi earned a nomination for Best Actress for her role in "Lorna's Silence", produced by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes, who won for Best Screenplay. The film explores the difficult path of an Albanian girl in Belgium striving to obtain citizenship while making compromises.
This is just to let you know that part by miracle, part by Gaby's degree in Public Relations and Communications Science, and part by good old Roumanian customer service that albeit didn't exist at Altex ... I have airconditioning both delivered and installed only 48h after purchase. Howzat?! I got home from work yesterday and everything was done. Gaby and Aless waited in, made sure the installers didn't knock down any walls (though I have a few extra-curricular holes to plaster), photocopied the invoice for me, and called to say I had to buy a 4m extension lead as the electrical wire attached to the a/c system was too short to reach the plug!! A little trip to Rainbow (Pta Amzei, the only place open nearby that sold such items) and 30 minutes later we were in business. Hurraaaaah!
Rosie is very proud of it of course, and I must say that at 3am this morning when it was 34° in here despite a violent storm outside, I could have hugged it if that hadn't meant climbing onto a chair!
My thanks to everyone for their advice (Serge and Mara), to Gaby and Aless for handling everything for me this end, to Nicole, Lidia and Marian for their encouragement, listening to me harp on and on for weeks, and Alan at work whose first question yesterday morning was 'how are the holes? Could you maybe put a plate of glass across it and pretend it's an porthole to remind you of your cave?' He had an a/c system fitted recently and .... oops... he had to get a professional plasterer in to clear up the mess.
I don't need a plasterer as yet (I think I can do the kitchen hole myself after all the practice I had plastering at Yèvre!) but I do need to go and buy a vacuum cleaner. The red dust that looks like Martians have landed comes from the wall and has covered everything. No amount of dustpan and brush attacks will shift it. So...first stop tomorrow, Billa.
Anyone criticising Roumanian reliability, come call on me and I'll give you a few choice words! Here's a satisfied customer. So there!!!
PS. Aaaaaaaand it has remote control so Her Maj doesn't even have to move to turn it on. Oh là là!
Here's a film about Roumania, sent to me by Catalina. Shame Virgin Media didn't think to incorporate some of it on their video for the EuroCup!
Back in Bucharest after a wonderful weekend, as always, with Lidia and Marian. Mara and Dan came too, arriving Saturday from Bucharest so with Ionut and Ionana, too, we were quite a group. Very nice to see them again.
Incidentally, the first class seat on an 'acelerat' is exactly the same as a second class one, so anyone thinking of doing the same, save yourself the 20ron difference, and remain in second! Couldn't believe it! Just as cramped, 8 per carriage, just as grotty, no aircon so with window wide open, we all had very dodgy hair-do's on arriving at our appointed destination. Everyone in my carriage got out at Brasov.
We were so glad to be back. It's rather like a second home for us, and I'd missed Lidia terribly. It had been 7 weeks - far too long. It's always lovely to find my bedroom, walk round the pretty garden, collapse in front of the tv and just relaaaaax!
Saturday, we'd hoped to catch a glimpse of Stirbey Castle in Buftea, but not enough time. It's on the agenda for next visit. It has been bought by a business tycoon from Brasov, neighbour of Lidia and Marian, big in asphalt - heaven knows, he's been trying to concrete Brasov over for ages.... A little info... "The Stirbey Palace in Buftea was bought for several million Euro, from the heirs of the homonym family, and it is to be transformed into an exquisite hotel. The property includes the palace itself and 24 hectars of park land. As the place has an impressive heritage of history and tradition, the new owners intend to set up a museum of the Stirbey family, but also to raise new buildings that will host conferences and exhibitions." Actually, it was bought for 9 million euros...far less than his friend Becali paid for the Ausnit House he has completely kitschified. I dread to think what Mr. Asphalt will do to this lovely castle...
Instead, we went to the Schei part of Brasov, one of my favourite areas. Today, the Schei quarter is a residential dead-end, with the calm and quiet of its Baroque streets broken only by very occassional buses and children coming home from school. It's a step-back in time. The quarter's main sight is the church of St. Nicolas on Piata Unirii. Ioana and Ionut plan to be married here in Sf. Nicolae and I can totally understand why. It's a beautiful ancient church of fairy-tale atmosphere and architecture, set in a lovely garden with floral cemetry nearby, and shares its place with the first Roumanian-language school, now a museum exhibiting the first Roumanian language text-books, printed in Brasov in 1581. The school was built in 1495 and rebuilt in 1760. What can I tell you about Sf. Nicolae? Er...the papal bull of 1399 mentions the church, but the building itself was constructed in 1495 with the support of the voivodes across the mountains (Vlad the Monk, Neagoe Basarab, Mihai Viteazul, Petru Cercel, Aron Voda, Gheorghe Stefan, etc). Three chapels were later added. It's not as large inside as you would expect, and we walked straight into a marriage ceremony. The bride was beautiful, the groom looked like a thug!
From this lovely, calm part of Brasov despite the wedding, Marian drove us to Piatra Craiului. How I love it there. It's so majestic, so peaceful. We stopped at the 'cabana' we know so well and doscovered that it, too, was owned by Marcel somebody-or-other, the rich tycoon who had bought the Stirbey Palas...my mici suddenly lost their flavour and I tried to focus on the fabulous mountain view in front of me. Ha. You can't buy that, at least.
We were all tired out that evening. Mountain air and visions of such loveliness are exhausting. A delicious spread as always, ladened the table and 'Fauteuils de l'Orchestre' on TV. Excellent combination!
Yesterday, Marian, Mara and I went charging round the shops to try and get me a portable aircon unit without a tube which has to go outside. Lidia said it absolutely does exist, but noone sold it. Galaxy Media, Altex, Flanco, Domo...but at least I got to see the prices and Marian and Mara (who runs an aircon company) could explain all the profound details of an aircon system. I'd already had a Skype Course from Serge who was superbly informative, so I kind of knew what I was looking for.
By the time we got back, there left only enough time to have lunch, then Mara and Dan kindly drove me back to Bucharest. I had a return ticket for the first class joys 'acelerat' but I couldn't face it, truely I couldn't. They left me on the corner of str. Glinka opposite Billa. I was most anti-social, as Rosie and I slept from Busteni all the way to Bucharest. We were worn out! How wonderful it had been to spend time with our beloved Lidia and Marian, get away from the heat (16-18° in Brasov, only 15° in the mountains), feel rain on our faces, see Ionut and Ioana, and emotionally absorb nature in all its glory and marvellous magnitude, which kind of puts everything else into perspective. Like a kind of retreat but with great food! We'll go back first weekend in July and do all the things Lidia and I had wanted but never had the time - castles, museums...
Today, Aless, Gaby and I went to Obor for my aircon system. At long last! We found a cheap though good quality one at Altex, and in fact the installation and delivery price cost almost as much as the airconditioning, made by Americool (ever heard of it?). Fortunately, Serge had already schooled me in what to look for and Mara had added a few hints (which I've forgotten). The long and the short of it is they will deliver tomorrow and install Friday. Then I must call Brigitte and ask her if she'll give me a months rent free for half the price of the aircon. After all, it will increase the value of her flat...
Altex at Obor is not conducive for customer service. First, we went to the shop near the metro station round the corner from Domo, beginning of sos. Colentina. They said we couldn't actually pay there - the shop for payment was two bus stops up Colentina. So, we walked...and walked...and walked...twenty minutes later and a lot hotter, we found the place, went upstairs and located the system we'd seen at the sister shop 500 km away...same price etc. Nothing can go wrong, I thought smugly. Buying aircon? It's a synch! Huh! Think again. This is a country where customer services really has no connotation. However much you're spending, you're treated a bit like an irritant, and I have to say it was my first experience of such behaviour. The girls said it was normal, which really got my goat because it's only normal because noone complains or does anything about it. The shop is on two levels, stuff for sale upstairs, payment and gymnastics downstairs. I handed over my credit card to pay the sum of 1,046 ron, noted on a post-it with reference number by the girl upstairs, to include installation and delivery. We waited 15 minutes. Despite Altex being a shop of technical products, one can't use the phone and the credit card machine at the same time. Everytime the girl swiped my card, her colleague picked up the phone. Finally, exasperated, I took the card from her paws and asked her to wait til her colleague had finished. He was, after all, organising my delivery date. She was most sulky and rude. Her colleague however seemed nice enough so we dealt with her instead. Pretty girl, great shame about the brown, broken teeth - and so young, too.
Anyway, finally, the payment was done. cross the shop to cash desk (nowhere near the credit card machine) for invoice. Then upstairs again for guarantee. The woman looked at the bill. Incorrect price. They had undercharged me. I'd have to pay the difference. I felt myself starting to scowl. 'Welcome to Roumania' said Aless, which made me even angrier! Downstairs again. To the cashdesk. The girl looked at the invoice, no 'sorry', nothing. It was her error, not mine. Another 100 ron. No way was I going to use my card again. I left the shop to use the cash machine next door. By the time I got back, Aless had paid the difference. I stood there in front of the sales girl waiting for an apology. If I'd held my breath, I would have collapsed...nothing. Back upstairs. Guarantee. Check address for delivery. Installation Friday.
I was livid. Such rudeless. Anyway, I won't just accept it as Roumanians do. I shall write to the director of Altex, to the Chamber of Commerce and to the Manager of Altex Colentina. It won't make any difference, but I'll feel better. If people don't stand up for themselves because they don't think they deserve to be treated any better, then nothing will ever change... Here ends the story of the aircon shopping.
A visit to Nicole's dear friends Iolanda, Matilda, Vassilica and Jules in strada Rabat for balm on fury which worked a treat, a trot to Zambaccian, closed for refurbishment and then home. Fell asleep with Rosie on the bed and woke up to the most beautiful inky red and indigo sunset I've seen in a long time. We are blessed with tapestries of colour and wonder in this incredible country.
Let the week commence!
Love, Sarah xox
I should explain the below article. Basically, another scandal. The votes for Mayor of Voinesti in the borough of Iasi continued yesterday despite the death of one of the candidates that very morning - who won, despite having 'expired'...apparently, there was nothing in the constitution which said that just because a candidate dies, he should be withdrawn...I don't know what to say, frankly! Don't know whether to laugh or cry...
Alegeri romanesti: mortii pot fi alesi primari!
Duminică, 15 Iunie 2008
Biroul Electoral Central a decis continuarea procesului electoral în comuna Voineşti din judeţul Iaşi, chiar dacă unul dintre candidaţii intraţi în turul al doilea a decedat astazi, anunta NewsIn.
Purtătorul de cuvânt al BEC, Marian Muhuleţ, a declarat că decizia a fost luată după discutarea în Birou a sesizărilor în legătură cu situaţia de la Voineşti, constatându-se că nu există nicio prevedere legală care să ducă la suspendarea procesului electoral. În consecinţă, secţiile de votare vor fi deschise până la ora 21.00.
Candidatul PSD la primăria Voineşti, Neculai Ivaşcu,a murit in aceasta dimineata, în urma unei tulburări neurologice. Neculai Ivaşcu avea 59 de ani şi a fost singurul primar post-revoluţionar de la Voineşti. Contracandidatul lui Ivaşcu este reperezentantul PNL Gheorghe Dobreanu.
APD solicită Biroului Electoral Central suspendarea procesului electoral în comuna Voineşti-Iaşi, deoarece scrutinul ar putea fi viciat, din cauza decesului unuia dintre candidaţii rămaşi în finală, se arată într-un comunicat al Pro Democraţia.
Sorin Oprescu: I am the first independent mayor of Bucharest. Blaga: I ran a well-intended campaign
de V.O. HotNews.ro
Duminică, 15 iunie 2008, 21:29 English | Politics
Shortly after exit polls for Bucharest mayor elections on Sunday announced his victory, Sorin Oprescu thanked those who voted for him and claimed he would be the first independent mayor of Romania's capital city while June 15 will remain in history as "one of the most beautiful days of democracy".
Oprescu was supported in the elections by the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), which he resigned from in order to run in the local elections. For his part, Vasile Blaga, the candidate for the Liberal-Democratic Party (PD-L), admitted defeat as exit-polls were announced.
According to Sorin Oprescu, "it was not I who made history, it was your vote that did so today. Your vote was stronger than their interests", he said, referring to allegations that incumbent PD-L mayor Adriean Videanu has involved the city hall in preferential dealings with firms controlled by people close to him.
For his part, Vasile Blaga said regarding his defeat that when ballot boxes speak, then politicians have to shut up. He said that he ran a well-intended campaign which was based on solutions for Bucharest's various problems and not on demagoguery. PD-L leader Emil Boc said the Bucharest branch of his party did all it could in order to win the elections and while he would have liked different results, "unfortunately Bucharest citizens would be the ones to lose following elections today".
Mircea Geoana, the leader of the Social Democrats, who backed Oprescu in his campaign for Bucharest mayor, said that the results today were "a smashing defeat for [President] Traian Basescu" who, he says, lost all credibility and legitimacy for getting involved in the local elections campaign. Geoana also said on Sunday Bucharest citizens "removed the Rightist dictatorship" - referring to the fact that the capital city of Romania has long been a stronghold for parties opposing the Social Democrats.
Rosie and I are off to Brasov for the weekend. Very impatient to see Lidia and Marian - it's been seven weeks since we were last together so there's a lot of catching up to do.
The coolness of the mountains isn't far away. Here in Bucharest, it's 29° (so they say but it feels hotter)... And for a change, we're going first class. The difference was 20 ron so thought it was about time we travelled in style. Never taken first class before except the night train to and from Sighet. Rosie has packed her case, the taxi will be here in seven minutes and we're ready to go.
Have a lovely weekend, one and all.
Love, Sarah xox
Whilst in Dalles yesterday, which professes a wonderful second-hand bookshop, I stumbled upon a book of his poetry deliciously translated by various translators. Suffice to say that it's in Romanian, English and Italian, and I'm so thrilled to have found it. What a 'trouvaille'! There I was surrounded by piles of old books, the smell of musty pages in my nose.
So what can I tell you about Marin Sorescu? Well, he was born in Bulzesti in 1936, and although invited to places such as Mexico to read and take part in poetry festivals, here in Romania he is known more as a playwright and his works have been performed all over the world. Like his compatriots Lucian Blaga and Eugene Ionesco, Sorescu's works usually contain paradoxes and absurd situations used as metaphors for other situations.
He has published seven volumes of poetry to date, including 'Only Between Poets', 'Poems', 'Don Juan's Youth' and others.
In 1981 he was interviewed by 'The News' and said, 'I usually write about the solitude that exists between people and how this can be penetrated. I also write about man in relation to nature, how man has lost the meaning of nature and in fact works contrarily to his own environment.'
He added, 'I always write for myself, but there exists also the sense of writing for a larger audience. To me, writing is a way of thinking. You see things as a rational whole, and then abstract the subject by using a metaphor in order to fully explore the theme.'
Sorescu explained that there currently exists in Romania a very important avant-garde poetry movement that works in a modern spirit. There is a huge public response to this new work and it's exhibited in mass printings of volumes of verse.
'Writing is a kind of sickness', he explains. 'It's like an internal fever. There's absolutely no cure, simply because the writer would become 'normal'...and that's no way to go. It's compulsory: we must write. Poetry links interior and exterior life. It links men with that which exists within and without himself.' (extracts taken from The News, 1 Sept, 1981)
The poem below, 'Shakespeare Created The World in Seven Days', really makes me chuckle. Enjoy!
Shakespeare a creat lumea în sapte zile.
În prima zi a fãcut cerul, muntii si prãpãstiile
În ziua a doua a fãcut rîurile, mãrile, oceanele
Si celelalte sentimente -
Si le-a dat lui Hamlet, lui Iulius Caesar, lui Antoniu,
Cleopatrei si Ofeliei,
Lui Otello si altora,
Sã le stãpîneascã, ei si urmasii lor,
În vecii vecilor.
În ziua a treia a strîns oamenii
Si i-a învãtat gusturile:
Gustul fericirii, al iubirii, al deznãdejdii,
Gustul geloziei, al gloriei si asa mai departe,
Pînã s-au terminat toate gusturile.
Atunci au sosit si niste indivizi care întîrziaserã.
Creatorul i-a mîngîiat pe cap cu compãtimire,
Si le-a spus cã nu le rãmîne decît sã se facã
Si sã-i conteste opera.
Ziua a patra si a cincea le-a rezervat rîsului.
A dat drumul clovnilor
Sã facã tumbe,
Si i-a lãsat pe regi, pe împarati
Si pe alti nefericiti sã se distreze.
În ziua a sasea a rezolvat unele probleme
A pus la cale o furtunã,
Si l-a învãtat pe regele Lear
Cum trebuie sã poarte coroana de paie.
Mai rãmãseserã cîteva deseuri de la facerea lumii
Si l-a creat pe Richard al III-lea.
În ziua a saptea s-a uitat dacã mai are ceva de fãcut.
Directorii de teatru si umplusera pamîntul cu afise,
Si Shakespare s-a gîndit cã dupã atîta trudã
Ar merita sã vadã si el un spectacol.
Dar mai întîi, fiindcã era peste mãsurã de istovit,
S-a dus sã moarã putin.
The first day he made the sky,
The mountains, and the spiritual abysses.
The second day he made the rivers, the seas
The oceans, and the sentiments
Giving them to Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Antony,
Cleopatra and Ophelia
To Othello and others
To master, they and their descendants,
The third day he gathered all people
And taught them the tastes:
The taste or happiness, of love, of distress,
The taste or jealousy, glory and more
Until all tastes had been accounted for.
Then some characters came along late.
The creator patted them fondly on the head
And said the only thing left for them to become
Was literary critics
To deny his works.
The fourth and fifth days
Were dedicated to laughter.
He let out the clowns to do somersaults
And let kings, emperors
And other unfortunates have fun.
The sixth day
He solved some administrative problems
Plotted a storm
And taught King Lear
To wear the crown of straws.
There was still some waste left
From the creation of the world
So he made Richard III.
The seventh day he wondered whether
There was anything left to do:
Stage directors had already
Flooded the earth with posters
So Shakespeare decided after so much labour
He deserved to see a show himself.
But first, as. he felt quite exhausted,
He passed away for a while.
Moooorte de rire!!!
Mihai Eminescu (January 15, 1850 – June 15, 1889), born Mihail Eminovici, was a late romantic Romanian poet, unanimously celebrated as the greatest and most representative of his country. Nicolae Iorga, the Romanian historian, considered Eminescu the godfather of the modern Romanian language.
Eminescu achieved a comprehensive, penetrating and visionary synthesis of the old Thracians, Dacian custom and Latin traditions that have merged over the past two millenia into an original Romanian cultural pattern, extended over the Carpathians to the Danube and the Black Sea.
Eminescu had only twenty years in which to fully accomplish his work (1864-1883), but in this short time he influenced Romanian consciousness deeply, promoting ideals of social equity, the preservation of national unity, independence and sovereignty and the fight for truth and beauty in both life and art.
He awoke a kind of historic self-awareness in the Romanian people and encouraged a vision of further development - equality with the rest of the world through the sharing of tragic historical events but without ever being submissive along with an ability to build a "great future" in the intense rhythm of European culture and civilisation.
Eminescu was influenced by the work of Arthur Schopenhauer and some have suggested that his most famous poem, "Luceafarul" was based upon an older German work or the Katha Upanishad. Eminescu's poems have been translated into over 60 languages world-wide. Please visit this wonderful blog dedicated to Mihai Eminescu.
Below, one of my favourite poems:
Departe sînt de tine
Departe sunt de tine şi singur lângă foc,
Petrec în minte viaţa-mi lipsită de noroc,
Optzeci de ani îmi pare în lume c-am trăit,
Că sunt bătrân ca iarna, că tu vei fi murit.
Aducerile-aminte pe suflet cad în picuri,
Redeşteptând în faţă-mi trecutele nimicuri;
Cu degetele-i vântul loveşte în fereşti,
Se toarce-n gându-mi firul duioaselor poveşti,
Ş-atuncea dinainte-mi prin ceaţă parcă treci,
Cu ochii mari în lacrimi, cu mâni subţiri şi reci;
Cu braţele-amândouă de gâtul meu te-anini
Ţi parc-ai vrea a-mi spune ceva... apoi suspini...
Eu strâng la piept averea-mi de-amor şi frumuseţi,
În sărutări unim noi sărmanele vieţi...
O! glasul amintirii rămâie pururi mut,
Să uit pe veci norocul ce-o clipă l-am avut,
Să uit, cum dup-o clipă din braţele-mi te-ai smult...
Voi fi bătrân şi singur, vei fi murit de mult!
Now far I am from you
Now far I am from you, before my fire alone,
And read again the hours that so silently have gone,
And it seems that eighty years beneath my feet did glide,
That I am old as winter, that maybe you have died.
The shadows of the past swift stream across life’s floor
The tale of all times, nothings that now exist no more;
While the wind with clumsy fingers softly fumbles at the blind
And sadly spins the fibre of the story in my mind…
I see you stand before me in a mist that does enfold,
Your eyes are full of tears and your fingers long and cold;
About my neck caressing your arms you gently ply
And it seems you want to speak to me, yet only sigh.
And thus I clasp entranced my all, my world of grace,
And both our lives are joined in that supreme embrace…
Oh, let the voice of memory remain for ever dumb,
Forget the joy that was, but that nevermore will come,
Forget how after an instant you thrust my arms aside,
For now I’m old and lonely, and maybe you have died.
[Translated by the incomparable Corneliu M. Popescu]