26th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Conference Fascinations: Romania

For the seventh year in a row, the Conference Fascinations — a supporting industry program featuring an extensive section for experimental documentaries — has focused on the presentation and distribution of motion pictures – both within a big-screen cinema context (festivals, specialized events, and institutions) and in galleries. This year, this retrospective program focuses on Romania. Since the 1960s, there have been a number of centers of the Romanian experimental scene. The artistic collective kinema ikon was founded in Arad; the Sigma art movement began operating in Timișoara, and another center was formed in Bucharest where several unconventional film personalities appeared (one of the most prominent ones being Ion Grigorescu). One filmmaker who really deviated from the typical avant-garde profile was Mircea Saucan, the director of many live-action, feature-length films who is perhaps best known as the man behind the industrial/lyrical, medium-length fairy play Alert!. The retrospective features 24 experimental films made outside of Romania’s official cinema infrastructure during the communist dictatorship.

Romanian Cultural Institute is the partner of the section Conference Fascinations: Romania.

An interview with Călin Dan, the director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, on Ion Grigorescu's films from the Conference Fascinations: Romania section at the 25th Ji.hlava IDFF.

 

Ileana Selejan, a Romanian artist and art historian is introducing the films selected in program section Conference Fascinatiosn: Romania.

Block 1

Block 2

Block 3

 

film database

Alone With Snow
An intermittent narrative about the fates of several characters - a man goofing off, a studio photog-rapher and his model, a posing woman, and a dog chasing its tail - is accompanied by a radio an-nouncement of the exact time, as if the time determines whether we distill the individual fragments into a unified story. And the clue? Don’t get eaten by mosquitoes.
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Alone With Snow

kinema ikon, Romulus Budiu
Romania / 1975 / 8 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Autopsy of Forgetting
Touching a wall or a girl's face, standing by a window, eating an apple. Forgettable gestures and mundane moments – like moments we want to forget – can emerge under the hand of a skilled surgeon in the form of urgent, recurring images, a psychoanalytic montage of cinematic dreaming.
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Autopsy of Forgetting

Ioan T. Morar, kinema ikon
Romania / 1977 / 5 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Beginning of a Coherence
A story of a man, a woman, and an image that cannot be retold but which somehow holds together, perhaps thanks to the endless corridor in which the individual actors meet and exchange telling glances. As a bonus, there are fragments of the Romanian eighties in the form of filterless cigarettes, battering rams, long coats, and mustaches.
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Beginning of a Coherence

kinema ikon, Valentin Constantin
Romania / 1981 / 8 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Beius
A rural experiment filmed with an 8mm camera captures the Transylvanian landscape around the town of Beius. Blurred lines, warm colors, depth of space, and soothing scenes: the impression of an oil painting is disturbed by the agitated camera movements, vertical swoops, image inversions, and overlaying of shots.
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Beius

Ion Grigorescu
Romania / 1978 / 6 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Birds Hunting
Physical interventions to the film medium – scratches, drawings, and paintings – overlay the urban and natural landscape captured by the fast-moving camera. Here and there, variations on the essential elements of the situation emerge from the visual stream: the hunter, the dog, the gun, and the flock of birds.
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Birds Hunting

Emanuel Țeț, kinema ikon
Romania / 1980 / 6 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Canvas
The exploration of pattern-making is based on a comparison of dynamic forms found in nature – reflections, wrinkles, or ripples – filmed in detail with a handheld camera, and shots of the texture of woven carpets and fabrics. It culminates in the performative action of wearing, drying, and mounting the material, perhaps a canvas ready for further creation.
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Canvas

Doru Tulcan, Sigma Group
Romania / 1982 / 9 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Commuters
Passengers traveling to Arad for work in the early morning in a crowded train indulge in a communal nap; on the way back, they play cards, read newspapers or knit, while the time between the two jour-neys is summarised in a series of photographic portraits of the working environment.
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Commuters

Florin Hornoiu, kinema ikon
Romania / 1975 / 7 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Dialogue with Ceauşescu
In a silent recording of a studio performance, filmed twice in succession on the same 8mm film, Ion Grigorescu, wearing the mask of the Romanian president, sits in a chair next to Ion Grigorescu, both facing the camera, alternately delivering speeches whose fading, illegible transcript partially over-laps the depicted scene of an imaginary dialogue between a citizen and totalitarian power. MNAC Bucharest – The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Romania
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Dialogue with Ceauşescu

Ion Grigorescu
Romania / 1978 / 7 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Fragmentarium
From the organic to the mechanical, from the quivering and suspended to the pulsing and accelerating - fragments of surfaces, textures, and rhythms of the visible world in black and white detail captured with a 16mm camera appear in dialogue with the changing pace of gradual transformation.
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Fragmentarium

George Sabau, kinema ikon
Romania / 1985 / 9 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Impossible Return
Like the strings in the Byzantine Variations by Romanian composer Paul Constantinescu that accompany this audiovisual sonata, the images of a landscape passing outside the window of a moving train, a road, a house, and a hand shaping the imaginary landscape of childhood in a pile of sand strewn on a tabletop, adhere to and permeate each other.
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Impossible Return

Constantin Flondor, Sigma Group
Romania / 1980 / 15 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Lighting
A self-referential film that utilizes acceleration, jump cuts, scraping, multiple exposures, and back-lighting of the film medium. The result is a dark work full of flashes surrounding the ecstatic dance of animated and living bodies moving through the landscape like visual vibrations.
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Lighting

Ioan Pleș, kinema ikon
Romania / 1981 / 5 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Male-Female
"There are others in my body” appears at the end of the difficult-to-read text shown during the first few minutes of the film. Using a mirror, intimate camera shots, and various poses, Grigorescu ex-plores the folds of his own body, its forms and deformability, examining the range of the gender spectrum. The interior footage is complemented by insistent camera footage of the facades of Bucharest’s houses. MNAC Bucharest – The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Romania
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Male-Female

Ion Grigorescu
Romania / 1976 / 11 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Mise-en-écran
The germs of a narrative stumbling between layered symbols in associatively interconnected interior environments focus on the female protagonists. They are wandering, waiting to be or being seduced, perhaps in relation to the submerged river of desire to leave their reflection on one of the pieces of the film medium that the man broods over at the end of the film.
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Mise-en-écran

kinema ikon, Liliana Trandabur, Roxana Cherecheș, Viorel Simulov
Romania / 1989 / 6 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Multivision I.
A recording of a multimedia installation for two synchronized Super 8 projectors and ten transpar-ent projection surfaces arranged in the shape of a tetrahedron, accompanied by a live ambient mu-sic performance by Adrian Ilici and a recitation of a text on soap bubbles from the work of architect and systems theorist R. Buckminster Fuller.
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Multivision I.

Adrian Ilica, Sigma Group
Romania / 16 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Neagu's Boxes
Instead of a frame, the works of Paul Neagu presented in this film are hidden in cabinets of various shapes and sizes; instead of the gallery visitor’s gaze, they demand the viewer’s intervention: to open, to look, to enter, which is why the artist takes them out and portrays them as traps for the pedestrians of Bucharest. The musical accompaniment consists of modernist brass compositions by Edgar Varese.   Stills Copyright The Paul Neagu Estate / DACS 2021 In partnership with the Paul Neagu Estate (UK).
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Neagu's Boxes

Comis Laurian, Paul Neagu
Romania / 1968 / 10 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Ocular
In close proximity, through slow movements of the camera, the eye becomes an unknown organic planet floating in black space. The delicate double exposure does not disturb the clarity of its patient, strictly black-and-white gaze, which works its way through hairs and eyelashes, through pores and wrinkles, crevices, and craters.
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Ocular

kinema ikon, Viorel Simulov
Romania / 1985 / 5 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Pollution
In the environmental horror film Pollution, a group of observers is haunted and threatened by the scratched-out shapes spewed from the chimney of a local factory. The emphasized horizontal and vertical lines create the impression of a threat approaching from above or behind, but in reality, it emerges directly from the film material. The fire spreading to the edges of the scorched film windows underscores the apocalyptic tones of the final turmoil.
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Pollution

Ioan Pleș, kinema ikon
Romania / 1977 / 5 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Pulsions
From the folds of silk, lace, aluminum foil, and cellophane, in the grip between the trembling reflections in the system of mirrors, the ankle, throat, or shoulder of a half-naked model occasionally emerges with surprising sharpness. The fluidity of depicting the female body in a cramped boudoir collides with them like drops of breath at the edge of a window.
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Pulsions

kinema ikon, Marcela Muntean
Romania / 1983 / 7 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Self-Portrait
Footage of the gradual installation and deinstallation of a private exhibition of calligraphic self-portraits hung on the gate of a cramped backyard is intercut with a short shot cut from a family film showing a close-up of a child's face in an open landscape. In contrast, the face of the adult artist is not visible; even his body gradually disappears under the layers of sketches.
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Self-Portrait

Iosif Stroia, kinema ikon
Romania / 1984 / 5 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Simultaneous Hypostases
Georg Săbău’s first work is a pioneering collection of avant-garde cinematic short stories – non-linearly structured narratives and pseudo-narratives that revolve around partnered couples. It gives the opportunity to master the basic vocabulary of experimental film: split screen, multiple exposures, and jump cuts.
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Simultaneous Hypostases

George Sabau, kinema ikon
Romania / 1970 / 3 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Stereomania
A visit to a Romanian disco where the rhythms of songs like Iko Iko and Invisible Sun interweave with. The edited footage from dance floors, concert halls, and stages is a multi-channel remix of the original recorded material with the filmmaker’s edited appropriated documentary footage.
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Stereomania

Cristi Jurca, kinema ikon
Romania / 1980 / 7 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
Subliminal Exercise
On its way out of the apartment, through the kitchen and bedroom, into the city, and out into nature, the stealthy running camera is drawn especially to the girls’ faces, to their bodies. The staccato, accelerating cut only settles down when meeting the old man and looking in the mirror.
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Subliminal Exercise

Alexandru Pecican, kinema ikon
Romania / 1979 / 6 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
The Alert!
A series of four films presented as educational clips about work safety in a chemical factory presents a multi-layered reflection on the ambiguity of life and death, waking and dreaming, seen through oppressive black and white images and episodic narrative. The enigmatic story of a young couple employed in a socialist factory is characterized by the constant repetition and variation of motifs that ironically violate safety rules. „Inhale as much air as possible, to have what to offer.“
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The Alert!

Mircea Săucan
Romania / 1967 / 58 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
International Premiere
Tribute to Dali
The rubble that piles up around the hole in the concrete plinth in the middle of the wasteland is just as insistent as the memories in Salvatore Dali’s famous painting Persistence of Memory. A meticulously crafted record of a surreal battle between an alarm clock and garbage ends with the victory of a ticking machine that manages to throw all the fragments of the past into a dark hole.
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Tribute to Dali

Ioan Pleș, kinema ikon
Romania / 1977 / 6 min.
section: Conference Fascinations: Romania
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