Astra Film Festival 2012/ 1

“Eighty films produced in twentyfive countries  to be screened in seven days”, this is the way that the Astra Film Festival (October 15-21) in Sibiu, Romania introduces itself. The festival has an international competitive programme of 9 films (see below), a Romanian competition of 9 films, a section called Eco Cinematograff, also competitive as well as a student section. But if you want an insight to new Romanian documentaries, Sibiu seems to be the place to be. This is the (slightly shortened) text from the website in troducing the themes of the films:

In mid-autumn, while Romania’s television screens are snoring accompanied by the noise of political talk-shows, stories of Romanian realities heat up the projection screens of Sibiu’s Astra Film Festival.

A diversified image of today’s Romania is sketched through the Romanian films being screened for a week in Sibiu: from unusual subjects, such as young men’s first days of freedom after years of incarceration (Turn Off the Lights by Ivana Mladenovic), a year in the life of a young Roma beggar in Helsinki (Helping Mihaela by Hanna Maylett), or the troubles of Sumna, a 20 year-old woman from Israel who has been adopted as a baby and is searching for her biological mother in Bucharest (Sumna’s Letter, by Hadar Kleinman-Zadock); to subjects dealing with Romania’s recent history, such as a digest of the events in December 1989  (Empty Hearts and Full Wallets, by Cornel Mihalache) and the recent flawed privatizations of some Romanian factories (Crosses of the secular plants, by director Gabriela Baiardi).

The line-up of Romanian films promises a great cinema experience, as each film has a different cinematographic approach, thus covering the whole range:

author documentaries, docudrama, television documentaries, essays, art documentaries and observational documentaries.

Stories on current topics

The effects of the labor force migration to Spain, from the perspective of two girls from a village in Maramureş County, will be shown in Here… I Mean There directed by Laura Căpăţână-Juller, a world premiere at Astra Film Festival. Common Ground, a Belgian production from 2012, is a window into the lives of Romanians living in apartment buildings, captured by the observational camera of Anne Schiltz and Charlotte Grégoire

Unknown and untold stories about the past

The Truth about the Holocaust, signed by none other than Florin Cioabă, focuses on the holocausts of the Roma and brings forward a number of deeds that are not well-known in Romania. The docudrama Heavenly Run, directed by Stelian Tănase, tells the story of a family’s incredible escape from Socialist Romania to Austria. Vanina Vignal’s After the Silence what Remains Unsaid Does Not Exist? closely examines a personal experience of Ceaușescu’s dictatorial regime.

Stremt 89, a documentary by Anda Puşcas and Dragoş Dulea, shows us the personal experiences and current reflections of the revolutionaries from the Stremţ village in Alba County.

The special program “The Dacians in Documentary Film” is made up of three world-premiere documentaries completed in 2012, with different approaches on the Dacian people. The film screenings will be followed by a panel with their producers and with historians that are experienced in interacting with the audience.

The unknown life of Romanian villages

In Blessings, Dite Dinesz’s camera captures the life of remote hamlets that do not appear on any map. Sociologist Alfred Bulai introduces us to the world of the Roma people from Drăguşi, and Botiza by Frédéric Gonseth and Catherine Azad (Switzerland), another premiere at AFF 2012, is a sensitive and deep incursion in the daily life of a village from Maramureş.

In the “Eco Cinematograf” section, we have the premiere of Roşia Montană, Town on the Brink, a Germany-Romania coproduction directed by Fabian Daub, a film that shows the current lifestyle and thoughts of the villagers that remained and of the people who have been already relocated to Alba Iulia, as well as the exploitation plans of the mining corporation. Poisoned by Andrei Sota, another premiere at Astra Film Sibiu 2012, focuses on the food that we eat in Romania and its long-term effects on the population.

The Astra Film Sibiu 2012 audience will also be able to enjoy a series of portrait-documentaries, such as: Digging for Life by Pavel Cuzuioc, The Japanese Quince Tree by Mara Trifu, Noosfera by Artchil Khetagouri and Ileana Stănculescu, Visiting Room by Radu Muntean and Alexandru Baciu. This year’s portrait section is dedicated Laurenţiu Damian, and will showcase for the first time the director’s most recent films: Corpus and Within a Tempest. The Island.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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