The jury for the long, international documentaries at DOK Leipzig chose Ana Dumitrescu’s ”Licu-a Romanian Story” as the winner of the 60th edition of the festival. I did not watch the film in Leipzig but did so tonight on a computer and I can only nod YES to the decision taken by musician and writer Anne Clark, master documentarian Heddy Honigmann and former arte commissioner Luciano Rigolini. I copy paste their motivation:
“In a humble house, there is a very old man sitting and telling us not only his story but the story of 2 centuries. To make this possible in a film is a very difficult task which requires love for your character and an exceptional cinematic eye. In these days when the only thing that counts is viewing figures a filmmaker with almost no budget dares to say I will do it in another way. This way goes directly to our hearts, creating a filmic journey which lasts only 86 minutes but for us it is a life lesson.”
And a copy paste as well of the fine DOK Leipzig catalogue text by Sirkka Möller:
”At the age of 92, Liviu Canţer, called Licu, has lived through the extremes of the 20th century in his home country of Romania – as an alert eye witness of the World War, expulsions, Ceauşescu’s industrialisation and surveillance, the revolution of 1989 and the corrupt post-communism at the margins of the EU, he has a lot of stories to tell. But being one of the last survivors of his generation he lacks contemporaries with whom he can share his experiences. Director Ana Dumitrescu takes time for him and his recollections. She keeps visiting Licu with her camera over the seasons. She films him in his house, where the family history is always present. Slowly the two develop a relationship – in the course of the film she turns from invisible observer to a visitor for whom Licu cooks and whom he offers homemade schnapps. He displays his photo archive. The happy and sad days are fairly balanced, but a certain resignation is obvious. Dumitrescu, who grew up as a Romanian in France, creates an epic space for the history of her native country, at the centre of which we find Licu: a personal fate representing the tide of history. The black and white images, shot with minimum equipment, reveal her sensitivity as a photo journalist, which enables us to immerse ourselves in this man’s world.”
And finally a quote from the website of the film, link below:
“ ‘Licu’, my latest feature documentary, happens to be my first Romanian movie and the first film I have made with my film-production company ‘Jules et Films’.
I am French of Romanian origin and I have never lived in Romania beforehand, with the exception of a two-year photographic interlude I spent there since 2007 to 2009. I used to enjoy listening to my grandmother telling me those old-time stories. The Romania I have known is, in fact, the Romania I have learnt about from my father’s and grandmother’s memories. In a way, this movie is a reflection of my own memories as a child when I was listening to those stories about a world I had never known. A movie made of memories. It is about a world depicted from my personal perspective through the eyes of those who had lived it in their own way. I have always enjoyed listening to the others telling me their stories and browsing through old-epoch photos. For me, this film is somehow like Proust’s Madeleine.”
Romania, 2017, 86 mins.