POFF Film In Focus: WEDDING IN BESSARABIA

The world premiere of a new film, particularly one from Romania, which has had a very high international profile of late, is a major event for a film festival. And here at POFF, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the arrival of a new Romanian talent, in a co-production that includes Romania, Moldova and Luxembourg, is an event worth noting.

 Image from WEDDING IN BESSARABIA

Napoleon Helmis (born in 1969, Topana, Romania) graduated the National Theater and Film’s Art University in Bucharest  in 1996, where he currently teaches film direction. In 2004, he made his feature debut with THE ITALIAN GIRLS (2004). WEDDING IN BESSARABIA, his second full-length feature, is competing in the Eurasia International Competition here.

Bessarabia is a historical region whose capital is the current Moldovan capital of Chisinau. The area was part of Romania from 1918-1940. In 1940, the Soviet Union formed the Moldavian SSR by annexing Transnistria to the central and northern part of Bessarabia. A heated argument over influence in Moldova persists to the present day between Russia and Romania.

What is most exciting about the film is how it fits into a classic European tradition while also revealing the subtleties of a culture that remains quite obscure. The film opens on a train, where young Vlad and Vica are having a heated quarrel. Mirroring arguments in countries across the globe in these trying, economic times, the conflict has to do with money, which has become especially needed since a child is on the way.

Hoping to find an easier way to make a living, the train is taking them from the hard life of Romania to to the girl’s homeland of Moldova, where the wedding will be held. The wedding not only reunited her with her family but also allows the couple the chance to receive presents and cash that they desperately need to start their new life together.

In the midst of political debate, social complexities and economic hardships, what emerges is a portrait of a community that celebrates  joie de vivre and humanity. The film holds on to its optimism while it delights artistically in the socio-political complexities of a region that has known its share of sorrows.

For more information on the film, visit: http://2009.poff.ee/eng/films/programs/official_competition_eurasia/?productID=4492

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