Prof.univ.dr Laurentiu Damian
President of the Romanian Filmmakers’ Union
Just a few days ago I saw an exceptional documentary film directed by Alexandru Boiangiu. Its title was Our House like a Flower. The film was here and there ironically, sometimes - sad. Mostly sad! Upon this movie came to my mind, I started to think about the cinema theater and what it still stands for today. Sure, I might invoke an exceptional documentary, made by Alexandru Belc at Tudor Giurgiu’s initiative, which is a warning on the disappearance of cinema theaters. Many halls are utterly ruined, others became clubs, others are bars with a bar along with the related dancers, others turned into improvised casinos and others simply do not exist anymore. Speaking about Scala Cinema, from the its vast and welcoming hall has remained only a corridor specific to comfort three apartments. Patria Cinema hosts all kinds of humoristic shows where great actors present themselves as "blind"!
Everyone shoot a film today, receive awards and feverishly gather scores to win the contest organized by the National Center of Cinematography (CNC). Millions of viewers of Michael the Brave or Pacala (Cheater) are memories today; and if you make a survey, meaning stopping innocent people in the street and tell them that no one would believe that years ago at Scala Cinema for instance, a half kilometer queue was made to view the film High School Students. After finishing a film, directors are hoping to reach the malls, where viewers come with huge bags of popcorn and nachos casseroles. And they crunch during the performance. Only after that, the film directors take into consideration to do the premieres either at Cinema Studio, an art cinema, or at the Cinema Pro. The cinema theater fills up at the gala evenings and gets empty the next day. The public does not request art films anymore. When getting a hundred thousand spectators, you can declare yourself happy that you will receive the GOPO plump little man Statuette for highest box office. At the same time, when watching the TV scroll in the same day, you find out that a 3D super production with a burning Troy or picturing the Titans battles make a box office over the film budget in only one weekend.
Taking into account this sad reality no one or almost no one considers the filmmaker’s house, the cinema theater, a sort of "our house like a flower!” What is it to do? Beyond awards, articles, festivals, the film must be shown in the cinema hall too, not at home (there was once was a TV show called Tele-cinemateque in Slippers and Dressing Gown).
I am calling upon all the people with genuine artistic status and involved in the Romanian cinema phenomenon to gather and discuss the issue of the cinema theater and how could we recapture the audience. I do not know why the theater hall is always full, even at light comedies, but cinema theaters remain empty and the only blessing it can offer the few spectators present is turning off the lights. In the dark, you can have the feeling that you share the joy of the screen with hundreds of fellows.
The cinemas avenue, the former March 6th and currently Elizabeth Boulevard looks like Sunset Boulevard (so to quote a famous movie). There you can see today all kind of small shops displaying plastic busts dressed up with bras, boutiques for fattish and plump, shoes, handbags and all sorts of posters with foreign singers, most of them septuagenarians, coming to perform at the Palace Hall, which became a hall of geriatric art. You go to see Bob Dylan’s concert, but you can’t see him as he is in contre-jour, you wonder about Adamo's vitality, or realize that Demis Roussos’ poster is no longer valid as the great singer has died.
The cinema hall will have to embody a hall for performing art, a hall where you meet actors and film critics, the hall where the author must present his work with dignity. Otherwise, we will have what we once called „production on stock”.