Romanian director Florin Iepan has – according to his Facebook page with a lot of links from the press coverage – shown a rough cut version of the film ”Odessa” in Bucharest on the 8th of April. I have known the director for many years, as a fighter for better conditions for the documentary in his home country, and for his films, first of all ”Children of the Decree” from 2005.
With the Odessa film (cited from an interview with Iepan at the IDF webpage, link below) the director “would like to nudge Romanians to engage in a long-overdue public debate about the Odessa massacre and Romania’s involvement in the atrocities of WWII. In Mr Iepan’s Odessa, the Odessa massacre refers to the events of October 1941 when over 20,000 Jewish residents were murdered by Romanian and German troops in the occupied Ukrainian town of Odessa. Close to 300,000 Jews and Roma were killed in the territories controlled by Romania’s Antonescu regime during the war. Yet disapproving public reactions which the filmmaker has received suggest that some Romanians may not yet be willing to acknowledge the past, and that losing face might seem intolerable to the country’s fragile psyche. Mr Iepan doesn’t mince words about the dangers of such reactions, and about the difficulties that, for entirely different reasons, come up when he tries to win support from abroad.” Continuing like this (from the film’s facebook page):
“What happens when a documentary film breaks out of its comfort zone and openly provokes the society? To what extent my compatriots are willing to reflect on one particular episode, the reprisals in Odessa from October 1941?”
And a gentle kick to us West Europeans, who love films from Eastern Europe, what do we want to come from this part of Europe, according to Iepan the following, and there is some truth in it, for sure:
“East Europeans should only make observational films about their communities in remote or desolate areas, with a thick fog, long shots, hours of uneventful suspense, following an old person who keeps a cow, a horse or chickens. Just looking and waiting for something. So obviously when you’re trying to do something else, you are a traitor to the good documentary.”