Keeping It Reel Goes to Bucharest!
Why Bucharest? Because I was invited and also – why not? If you were to tell me six years ago when I started Keeping It Reel that I would one day be invited to a film set, I would’ve dismissed such a thought as nonsense. Now, if you were to tell me that I’d be invited to visit the set of a film in another country, I would call you insane. Well, this weekend, such insanity is turning into reality, because this guy has accepted such an invitation and is being flown to Bucharest, Romania! So, what is this movie, what is it about and when will it get released?
I’ll get to that, but first a brief overview on why I’m excited for Romanian cinema….
Within the past 15 or so years, Romanian cinema has experienced something of a reemergence after collapse of Communism, some have even called it a Romanian New Wave. The films that have received acclaim and awards predominately lean toward a minimalism or realism approach, offering a variety of genres and natural and authentic characterization. Among those films, certain directors have stood out, such as Cristi Puiu (“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” and “Aurora”), Cristian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”), Călin Peter Netzer (“Child’s Pose“) and Radu Jude (“Aferim!“), often earning them international success and a wider audience. With more films coming out each year, any announcement about a Romanian film going into production, will pique my curiosity.
Such is the case with “Octave”, a drama that started production on March 21st in Campulung, Arges county, as well as the studios in Buftea (Ilfov), through April 27th. I’ll be attending a foreign press visit for the film on Monday, April 11th. It is the feature-length debut of Serge Ioan Celebidachi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay with James Olivier.
“Octave” stars Romanian actor Marcel Iureș in a lead performance as the title character, an elderly man who returns to his family home after decades away to find the apparition of the childhood sweetheart from his youth. This triggers a reflection back to the life-changing events from his past, in a nostalgic story involving time (and time travel), love and rediscovering ones roots, embodied by the innocence of an intimate relationship, as seen from a surreal and impressionistic tone.
That’s the film’s synopsis; one which immediately caught my interest due to my fondness for dramas revolving around nostalgic memories that provide an understanding (or awakening) for the present (films such as “Cinema Paradiso” and “My Golden Days” come to mind).
American audiences will likely recognize Iureș from a variety of roles where he played antagonists such as vampires, terrorists, spies or soldiers, that started in the early 90s. The actor appeared in movies such as “Interview with a Vampire” and “Mission: Impossible” (both with Tom Cruise) , “The Peacemaker” (with George Clooney and Nicole Kidman), “Hart’s War” (opposite Colin Farrell and Bruce Willis), “Layer Cake” (with Daniel Craig), “Goal! The Dream Begins”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Youth Without Youth” (filmed in Romania by Francis Ford Coppola). He’s also recently appeared in TV series such as “În derivã”, “Strike Back” and “The Game”, but is recognized in his home country as an acclaimed stage and screen actor, having starred in more than two dozen features in Romania, receiving awards for his work.
Iureș has this to say about the film, “Octave is the most beautiful role I have received so far. It captivated me from the first reading. Octave is an extraordinarily great acting challenge for me. It is a beautiful film; beautiful is the basic word which defines it. It has a deep human quality, it encompasses tenderness, nostalgia, regret, destiny and beauty in multiple degrees. From the experience which the Romanian cinema has showed us in the past 20-30 years, the film will be an enriching challenge for both the Romanian film industry and the actors, but also for the public. And in Romania we have an audience who will recognize themselves in the film. The film is a life journey for everyone to embark upon in mind and soul.”
Along with Iureș, the “Octave” cast also features Victor Rebengiuc, who has starred in the recent “Aferim!” which was last year’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film of the 88th Academy Awards from Romania. The veteran actor had starred in the first ever Romanian feature film to be awarded Best Director Award at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1965, “The Forest of the Hanged”, directed by Liviu Ciulei.
The rest of the cast is rounded out by: Andi Vasluianu (“Of Snails and Men”), Lia Bugnar (“Blood & Chocolate”), Roxana Guttman (“The Whistleblower”), Ioan Andrei Ionescu (“Brancusi, from eternity”), Mihai Dinvale (“The Other Irene “), Maria Obretin (“Bucharest Non Stop”) .
“Octave” is being filmed by Italian cinematographer, Blasco Giurato, known for his masterful work on “Cinema Paradiso”, “Una pura formalità” and “Doctor Zhivago” (2002). Giurato has over 90 films to his credit and has won Italian Golden Goblet Awards for Best Cinematography (Migliore Fotografia) for films “Una pura formalità” “Del perduto amore”. Of his role in “Octave”, Giurato says, “Octave will be my legacy and my tribute to 35 mm”.
The soundtrack to “Octave” will be scored by Romanian composer Vladimir Cosma, one of the most revered film music composers in France, who has scored over 300 films. The numerous awards he has received during his career include two Cézar Awards, two 7 d’Or Awards and the Grand Prize for Film Music (Sacem) At Cannes for his entire body of work.
“Octave” is a co-production between Romania and the UK, supported by the National Center for Cinematography, with a budget of 1.4 million euros and is produced by Astra Entertainement, Oblique Media and Celebfilms UK and is produced by Adela Vrînceanu Celebidachi, wife of director, Serge Ioan Celebidachi.
The director earned a bachelor of arts in Theatre and Drama from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN with Specialization in Film Studies and a film masters degree at the London International Film School. He wrote a number of scripts, directed and produced “Celibidache’s Garden” (a documentary about his famous composer/conductor father, Sergiu Celibidache) as well as “Edward et Lulu” and “Taming the Apex”, reaching markets including the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Romania among others.
I’m excited about this trip to Bucharest and look forward to reporting my experiences. I’m quite humbled to be asked to participate in an event that will have press from Canada, Mexico and Greece as well as the States. Those of you who follow me on Facebook or this site’s page over there can look for some future correspondences as I travel to Romania – heck, Europe – for the first time in my life.