Anonimul 2007

The Anonimul International Independent Film Festival celebrated its fourth birthday in 2007, a critical year seeing as many did not give the festival much chance of success due to the fact that, according to the naysayers, it took place in the middle of nowhere. In fact, the festival is a relaxing week away from it all immersed in the cinematographic art, with an excellent host – Sorin Marin – who ensures that the week flies by without a dull moment. Everything begins with a long coach journey lasting several hours, during which you can get to know the most interesting characters and learn how to avoid those individuals who might be just a little bit hard to put up with. Once the bus pulls up at Murighol (Violet Lake), you are ushered on board a yellow vessel that reminds you very much of a musical submarine of the same colour. This will whisk you across to the isolated settlement of Sfântu Gheorghe, leaving a trail of champagne in its wake. On the way, you'll realise that your mobile phone has begun to pick up the Ukrainian mobile networks, and that you've left 3G far behind you. There's no chance that you'll be able to watch TV, especially so as Anonimul is very much based on a complete break from reality. You won't be watching the news, but that's no problem, as there'll be no shortage of films to keep you entertained. Only Mungiu was exempt from this, being allowed to watch a football match, but maybe that privilege comes with winning at Cannes. The opening ceremony takes place, as opposed to three years ago, in the campsite, where almost 2,000 impatient spectators prepare to spend their days and nights in front of the big screen. The Master of Ceremonies was the elegant and refined Miruna Micu Berescu, the festival's director since its debut in 2004. She invited the event's great supporters, the actors Mariana Mihuţ, Victor Rebengiuc and Luminiţa Gheorghiu onto the stage, and they spoke with great eloquence and originality, demonstrating that if their cinematic careers didn't work out, they could always try their hands at writing Chekov-style literature. The next person to appear was Marina Grasic, president of the jury judging the contending feature-length films, a splendid American with a statuesque beauty and producer of the film "Crash", which beat the favourite "Brokeback Mountain" to win 3 Oscars. Also present and accounted for was the Sfântu Gheorghe women's' choir, which can hold its own with Goran Bregovic's Bulgarians, and which sang as images of last year's festival appeared on the screen, just like in TV series, to remind you of what happened in the last episode. The gala film was of the pro-environmental variety, designed to scare the wits out of us and make us more aware of our relationship with the surrounding environment. I refer, of course, to "An Inconvenient Truth", told to us by Al Gore, the former next president of the United States, as he likes to quip. A French-Swiss film, "My Brother's Getting Married", was the first of the contenders to be shown. A remarkable bitter-sweet comedy, it, to my great regret, did not come away with any prizes. After 2am, the Russian movie "Banishment" was shown, and won the greatest number of jury prizes due to its overwhelming imagery worthy of an entire exposition of paintings in the Hermitage, as well as for the excellent work of its director. The next day parallel competitions in the feature-length and short categories took place, with the Canadian film "Before the Wind Blows" coming out on top. This absolutely sensational work deals with the video testaments of certain suicidal individuals determined to kill others while ending their own lives. The "Ovidiu Bose Paştină" prize was won by the Czech "T-shirt", while in the short animation category the Brazilian film "The Tiger" beat the Oscar-winning "The Danish Poet" to the prize. The latter category was the most popular, with the cinemas in the village being packed to the gills. That night, after dinner, we were treated to a performance by the Nova quartet, whose repertoire of famous musical numbers from films was carefully selected by the organisers. The hours that followed were particularly interesting, with the projection of the films "Tickets" and "11'09"01", the latter referring to the 11th of September plus one frame or 11 minutes, 9 seconds and one frame, as explained by the British director and Palme d'Or winner Ken Loach, who arrived at the festival by helicopter. The question-and-answer session that followed the film was somewhat tense, however, as Loach made the mistake of attempting to convince a Romanian audience that Communism was a positive thing, only Stalinism being a malevolent phenomenon. Of course, he knew that he was taking a risk in expressing such opinions, given that he had had a similar experience in the Czech Republic recently. Obviously enough, our public did not react entirely positively to the vision of a socialist paradise as described by an individual from a nation that has been a stable democracy for well over one hundred years, especially seeing as, amongst the audience were the grandchildren of those worked to death by the communist authorities in the Periprava work camp, which was located less than one hour's drive from where we were standing. The next day Loach held an extremely fascinating seminar about the film industry, mainly focusing on film distribution, and he responded to particularly pertinent questions asked by members of the public very familiar with his work. That afternoon one film drew in the crowds, this being "4 Minutes". The same could not be said for "London-Brighton", with the audience slowly trickling out of the room while the projector was still running. Why so much interest for the German production? It may have been down to the fact that the reviews spoke of an unhealthy relationship between two women, even if they didn't exactly provide a wealth of details. The film was notable for its supporting musical score, and the young Hannah Herzsprung received a special mention from the jury, as did the extremely revolutionary Italian Elio Germano of "My Brother's an Only Child". Two extremely controversial films also took part this year, namely Steve Buscemi's "Interview" with the voluptuous Sienna Miller, a remake of a film by Theo Van Gogh, the murdered Dutch director, and "Flanders", an experimental movie about a group of farmers sent off to fight an enemy in a fictional Arab nation. "Tuya's Wedding", a Chinese production set in far-flung Mongolia, was considered by many to be a film made exclusively for the festival circuit, despite the fact that it won the Golden Bear at Berlin. The biggest hit, however, was "California Dreamin'", which has won an endless number of prizes since its director Cristian Nemescu spent his last mini-holiday at this festival, a delicate memory that those who organised Anonimul 4 did not want to take advantage of. It won the festival trophy and the public's choice award. Of course, we must not forget the other, less obvious aspects of the festival… Romantic trips along the delta's waterways in tiny craft steered by timeless fishermen, or the swimming pool, in which many visitors spent a significant part of their time, with its inflatable armchairs and sun-beds offered by generous sponsors, and constantly trendy music. Then there are the romantic dinners on the seashore, where everybody greets everybody else as if they had known each other for years. Away from the seemingly endless series of films, if you have friends staying with locals in the village you might be lucky enough to enjoy discussions on the art of cinema over a seafood lunch of stuffed pike. For those who could not make it to the Danube Delta this year, Cinema Studio in Bucharest was a godsend as it provided a short retrospective of the festival in the first weekend of October. Ciao no. 85

by Irina-Margareta Nistor