The Danube Delta Seen Through The Eyes Of Ion Bostan

Ion Bostan was born in Bucovina, in the city of Chernowitz (Cernăuţi) on December 15, 1914. He was an important personality in the history of the Romanian documentary film. I accompanied him as he was shooting for a number of his films in the Danube Delta. I can, of course, testify to his enthusiasm and to the passion and dedication with which he got involved in his work after choosing his subjects, to his extraordinary love for nature and for painting (he particularly admired Brueghel – the Massacre of the Innocent – and the frescoes on the walls of the old Romanian churches, as well as Theodor Aman's and Nicolae Grigorescu's works). We met accidentally on the shore of Snagov Lake and were surprised to find out that we had the same type of diving equipment. In those times the waters of the lake were extraordinarily clear and in the "jungle" underneath large shoals of fish could be seen surging from the darkness, big pikes attacked groups of silver, glittering smaller fish. It is a world that no longer exists nowadays, as gone is the Delta of old times. A world that has only survived in the numerous wonderful films of Ion Bostan that managed to masterfully capture the fabulous animal and vegetable universe of this part of the world. Ion Bostan began his professional career of cameraman in 1949 and in order to improve his technique he took a course in Moscow under the guidance of professors Vsevolod Pudovsky and Mark Donskoy. He made the first film on the wonderful world of the Delta in 1962. It was called Among the Pelicans and it was a masterpiece of documentary film. These great white birds fascinated Ion Bostan who constantly filmed them throughout most of his career for a period spanning more than two decades (1962-1985). He often took pictures at the very heart of the bird colonies, which he often approached under the water not to scare them away. He filmed them as they mated, as they fed their young or as they took off, like impressive flying caravans, towards other glittering stretches of water. A director, scriptwriter and cameraman, Ion Bostan made no less than 124 films during the 43 years of his professional career (1949-1992). Of these, about 40 are on the Danube Delta. In some of his most fertile years (1971, 1972) he made about 4 or 5 films. The main characters in these films were the birds in the Danube Delta. He had remarkable achievements in this field. The Heron – A Reptile Bird got an award at the festival of Rio de Janeiro in 1970. We cannot imagine the Delta in the absence of the fish and fishermen and they are indeed the main characters in Ion Bostan's documentaries (The Sturgeon and Migrating Herring, 1971, The Giant Beluga, 1981, The Sturgeon Are Preparing for the Storm, 1969, Fish and Fishermen, 1971, The Swans' Village, 1974, Fishing amidst Pelicans and Water Lilies, 1978). His 1981 film, Sulina, the Old Gate of the Danube, inaugurated the cycle "The Danube Delta, a Sanctuary of Nature. The Unwonted Delta." 12 more exceptional achievements followed until 1986: The Migration of Birds (1982), Gold, Silver and History (1982), Hitchcock's Seagulls (1982), An Age-Old Profession: Fishing (1983) In the Green Jungle of the Depths (1983), The Floating Island (1983), The Flutter of Wings, Everywhere (1983), Oaks and Lianas (1983), The Pelicans Are Coming Back (1983), The Stone Whale – the Island of Popina (1985), When Water Lilies Bloom (1985), The Cormorants Were Flying Past (1986). One can see from this list how fertile was the year 1983 and what an energy Ion Bostan still possessed, though he was no longer in the prime of his youth. In 1990, at the age of 76, he had no hesitation in starting a new series of films dedicated to the stone churches of Upper Moldavia: Voroneţ, Humor, Arbore, Moldoviţa, Suceviţa, grouped under the title "The Splendor of the Holy Frescoes". In 1992 he finished work at a film for which he chose a strange title: A Heavenly Crossroads, and on May 29, 1992 Ion Bostan left our world in search of the heavenly Deltas. ION BOSTAN(15 December 1914, Cernauti-29 May 1992, Bucharest)Documentary film director Educated in Moscow under directors Lev Kulesov, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Alexander Dovzhenko, Mark Donskoy Awards:Mamaia, 1964, Under the Eagle's Wing Tehran, 1968, The Sarmatian Sea, the Black Sea Novi Sad, 1969, Histria, Heraclea and the Swans Rio de Janeiro, 1970, The Heron – a Reptile-Bird ACIN, 1972, The Sunken Forest Tehran, 1973, The Sunken Forest ACIN, 1973, Seagulls with Clean Wings ACIN, 1975, A Willing Robinson ACIN, 1976, The Storks Are Coming

by Alexandru Marinescu