News / The Network


The Network - 02/10/2007


Silvia Balea, Le Latina, Paris (France)



"Focus on Romanian cinema"
In recent years, Europa Cinemas

 network theatres have done much to promote Romanian filmmakers, organising several festivals across Europe and screening the first works of these young directors, who have now become known to wider audiences. In January 2007, for example, the Curzon Mayfair in London showed the films of Ruxandra Zenide and Cristi Puiu. And several months before that, a travelling festival visited several Polish network cinemas.
Le Latina in Paris is a fine example of this commitment. The cinema's interest in Romanian film dates almost from its inception.

In January of this year, Le Latina presented the festival Le Paris du cinéma roumain (The Paris of Romanian cinema). How did that come about?

Le Latina was founded in 1984. Its aim is to promote Latin-language cinematography in Paris, so it's only natural that Romanian cinema should occupy an important place in its programming. One of the main goals of Le Latina's founders was to give equal opportunity to all of these cinematographies. The living proof is that I - a Romanian refugee in France who speaks the 5 Latin languages - was chosen to direct the cinema starting in 1990.
Le Latina programmed Romanian films from day one. Timidly at first: only films which had passed Ceausescu's censors could be shown. But then, starting October 1991, some months after the revolution, we were able to organise The first festival of free Romanian cinema. It was then that we screened the films of Lucian Pintilie (Carnival Scenes), Mircea Daneliuc, Stere Gulea and Dan Pita, a very talented generation which suffered terribly from the country's seclusion.
After this festival, which celebrated the return of creative freedom in the country, Le Latina was constantly open to these filmmakers, trying to help them become known to a wider public. We've done this with the older generation, staging events around the new films of Stere Gulea and Nicolae Margineanu. Primarily, however, we've shown the films of the new generation in Paris, notably by Radu Mihaileanu (Betrayal) and Nae Caranfil (Don't Lean Out the Window).
In 2002, we staged an event at Le Latina around Cristian Mungiu and his first film Occident, which was selected at the Directors' Fortnight. It was then that I became friends with Daniel Burlac, a producer and promoter of Romanian cinema in France. Our common aspiration is to allow Paris to discover this very promising new generation of filmmakers.
This gave birth to the Panorama du cinéma roumain (Panorama of Romanian cinema) in April 2005. The aim of this festival has been both to turn our eyes to the past and to highlight the privileged relations between Romania and France, which were still thriving in the 1960s. Another goal was to draw attention to the new generation of filmmakers whose feature films, shorts and documentaries captured us passionately. Notably, we showed feature films by Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu, Nae Caranfil and Radu Muntean, and short films by Catalin Mitulescu and Corneliu Porumboiu.
Then on 30 January 2007, we did it once more with Le Paris du cinéma roumain, presided by Radu Mihaileanu and in the presence of Corneliu Porumboiu, actress Luminita Gheorghiu and actress and singer Margareta Pâslaru.

How did audiences react to this festival?

Their enthusiasm hasn't stopped growing. The quality of the discussions and meetings was truly exceptional, a rich blend of inspiring ideas, gravity, humour, and conviviality. Audiences also appreciated the programming diversity. There was a real mix: French people curious to discover or deepen their knowledge of Romanian culture, Romanians from the first wave of emigrants to France between the two wars, others from the second wave (under Ceausescu), Romanians studying in Paris with their French or other friends, Latin Americans living in Paris keen to find out more about their Latin cousins, and many others. Attendance also grew, from around 1,000 viewers in 2005 to 1,400 in 2007.

Will the new surge of interest in Romanian film prompt you to repeat the experience?

Indeed, everything I've observed about the evolution of Romanian cinema points to the development of a new wave of Romanian filmmakers. They're a very diverse set of talents, who express themselves in a unique way. It's really as if this country, which was condemned to uniformity for years, has opened the floodgates of its creativity and imagination and is now showing itself in all its complexity. These young filmmakers are Romania's ambassadors to the world. What they show us is a people that has been hurt, but which is nevertheless strong enough to view past wounds with lucidity, dignity and even humour.
It's clear that we're very eager to repeat the experience. Not only that, the dynamic nature of Romanian cinema has prodded us to accelerate the rhythm and turn it into an annual event. The next festival is already set for 12-18 March, 2008. We're now hoping for enhanced support, from both the Romanian and the French sides, to give the event the magnitude it deserves.

Cinema Le Latina

Pictures (from top):
Poster of the Panorama of Romanian cinema
Poster of Le Paris du cinéma roumain
Corneliu Porumboiu and Daniel Burlac
Silvia Balea and Radu Mihaileanu