Sunday, August 30, 2009

"George Enescu" Music Festival 2009: The Legacy

George Enescu Music Festival and Competition - the 19th edition - is already a cultural brand with international recognition. Between 30th August and 26th September, classical music lovers are spoilt for choices in Bucharest at some of the most beautiful and impressive locations in the capital (National Opera or The Romanian Athenaeum).
There are also additional concerts in Tescani, Sibiu and at "Mihail Jora" Classical Music Concert Hall in Bacau.
Divided into 8 sections, the Festival and Competition will be attended by great musicians of the world: Joshua Bell, the pianist Christian Zaccharias, Martha Argerich, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Alexandru Tomescu, Diana Rotaru, etc. and orchestras: "The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra", from Amsterdam, "Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks", "Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse" and many more.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Searching for Bucharest...

Mrs. Tessa Dunlop, journalist for The Independent British newspaper, writes from an interesting perspective on the Romanian capital after 20 years since the downfall of communism.

Married to a Romanian man, she seems to be well-acquainted with the country's problems but I bet she does not like to live here much.
Mrs. Dunlop reminds me of the English playwright Caryl Churchill who came in the early 90's for a project-play on the Romanian revolution in 1989 - with the critical eye of the outsider, unemotionally involved and probably with the perspective of both sides - she could exactly pinpoint the critical issues.

Just like Mrs. Churchill then, Mrs Dunlop speaks about the chaotic architecture, poor management of local attractions, too many casinos in Bucharest, but also the beautiful women who are very well dressed...

However, 20 years of capitalism taught people here that Ceausescu was not the real problem in the past, but a whole well-structured system which is still visible today - so, associating Bucharest with Ceausescu may work for a British readership but it is quite far-off from the real truth. Also, I wonder whether Mrs. Dunlop has really known the real beauty of Bucharest - with its old streets, museums of art, old houses and gardens... And I also wonder whether she really took the time to feel the spirit of this authentic city which lies in little details and in people's gestures not in focusing on problems, frustrations and critical issues. Personally, I have learnt to re-discover Bucharest and I am very happy I can really see its beauty now - it's about the Spirit - of sophisticated eclecticism, not the communist buildings, for sure...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trei Parale - Discovering Antique Music

The 19th century music that was sung and listened to in the Carpathians region by various communities - Romanian, Jewish, Hungarian, Gypsy, etc. - is being re-discovered, with the help of detailed research and passion of three musicologists at the Romanian Village Museum in Bucharest. Florin Iordan, Daniel Pop, Beatrice Iordan and Dinu Petrescu use archaic traditional music instruments and call themselves "Trei Parale" / "Three Pennies".
Whenever you listen to their music you are taken back to immemorial times...

The Pain Memorial - "History Which Is Not Taught At School"

The first and the second DVD of the collection of interviews, reports and research conducted by Mrs. Lucia Hossu Longin and Mr. Dan Necsulea under the already famous title "The Pain Memorial" focuses on the state of Bucovina region, in the north of Romania, immediately after World War II and the Soviet destruction of the villages and of the people there - ready to implement the new communist regime. Heavily documented, the dvd tells the story of how the local fighters confronted the oppressors, hiding in the mountains and hoping for American aid to come to set the country free. Leaders like Dumitru Craciun, Dr. Gheorghe Vasilache, Constantin Cenusa, Vasile Motrescu - "the last fighter in Bucovina, caught due to betrayal" - are the people who kept the faith and hope of a whole country alive.
In Fagaras region, resistance against communist crimes and terror was possible thanks to "the Boys in the Mountains" - called like this because of their very young age. Ion Gavrila Ogoranu, Ion Buta, and many students and a few teachers at Radu Negru Highschool in the town of Fagaras "placed freedom above their lives in full terror" (Octavian Paler). The Soviets and the new local communists acted with a view to systematically destroy families, by turning one against the other and 'rewarding' the traitors, and through 'collectivization' they confiscated every possession and property in order to make people subject and dependent on the communist state. These young boys, with love of God and of the country, could not accept this "Soviet colonization" (Octavian Paler).
Along with students, writers and journalists had to suffer the same torture and terror. Between 1945 and 1948, 8,500 literary works on identity are forbidden from publishing. The poet Radu Gyr is sentenced to prison for his famous poem - "Stand Up George, Stand Up John" - for 20 years...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Miss Pogany - the Essence of Feminity

Mademoiselle Pogany, worth $100 million, is one of Constantin Brancusi's most famous works of art with a destiny that does not seem to be very calm. Her stillness, however, seems to ignore financial interests and enchant art-lovers.
The New York Times writes about her story.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"The Trap" - Another Lesson We Must Learn

The day of April the 7th marked another day we should remember - thousands of Moldavian students and youngsters came together in an act of freedom - of opinion, of communication, of rights. Can they all be wrong? Can't they all be heard by the big democratic officials? "The Trap" is a striking recount of what happened...
Quite often I am under the impression that history is just repeating...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Police, Adj." - A Case of Consciousness.

Police, Adj. is Corneliu Porumboiu's latest film - written and directed in his unique style of filming, with long shots, long deep pauses, minimal but precise and sharp dialogue. In a world where we have been framed into receiving films and movies in a typical, standardized way, Police, adj. comes to challenge us into de-framing our mind, un-learning 'to watch a movie'. The best part of it is that it actually gives you the space and time to think . Every little pause, every little detail makes sense and is part of this apparently simple ordinary texture but masterfully and minutely crafted.
My friend and I last night took the director's opportunity to piece together little details like words written on walls, the position of houses, angles, shades, etc. For example, Cristi the young policeman asks his colleague to check a certain number plate and gives him the letters containing it - "AIC" - "A for Anca (female name), I for Iuda (Juda, the traitor), C for Cristi (male name)" or we could see these words written on a wall - "AF Trandafir executa / Rose Family Association Executes" which are very funny and ironic at the same time, linking directly with the end of the film.

Mr. Porumboiu works as an unseen creator who gives viewers the freedom to develop in time with the movie and his characters. At the latest edition of the International Film Festival in Sarajevo, he spoke about the link between film and time and the "time of being" as the essential element of his film vision - that the time of moving in a character is more important than any dialogue - and I think the concept of 'time of being' can be applied to viewers too as they - too - have their own time of being, of internalizing the film texture and the story. In this case, the story of the film is acutely modern and current - how young moral professionals succumb and accept defeat under the pressure of an artificial social system, but not only...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sighet Memorial - The Form of Justice.

The former political prison in Sighet turned, after the Revolution of 1989, into The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance. The Council of Europe designated the Sighet Memorial one of the main memorial sites of the continent, alongside the Auschwitz Museum and the Peace Memorial in Normandy.
The amazing work of a handful of specially dedicated people keeps the memory of this country and continent alive - the memory of who we are, of our own identity.
Without the Sighet Memorial my life as a simple citizen inhabiting Europe and this world would lack an essential dimension...

"Home Alone" - Documentary on Migration Effects

The local TV station 1TV has recently broadcast their striking "Home Alone" documentary on the situation of the elderly people left behind by those who go to the west in search of a better financial life. What do they leave behind? - "Pain - Loneliness - Poverty - Hope - Tears". Home Alone shows the naked heart-breaking truth of thousands of people over 60 years old who live a real drama under the powerless gaze of authorities... "You haven't died for 90 years, you won't die one or two months" is the shocking answer of a Romanian youngster to his elderly mother before heading for the west...The problem is they never stay away for just one month - so easily months turn into years until they themselves get tangled in their own life problems and become powerless themselves ...
Again, I believe that this is not just a local problem - as we have recently seen, any local problem is a global problem that will affect us all - in one way or another, sooner or later...

Friday, August 14, 2009


From the Latin word "lumen", meaning "light" ("lumen solis" meant "sun light" for the Romans) there is the Romanian word "lume" - meaning "people", "world" ...

Tescani - Artists' Creativity Hub

When I arrived at Tescani Mansion this week, which is the home of George Enescu Cultural Center in Bacau county, the place was very quiet and still and brightly lit by the sun - the trees and the field were inviting and protective though and the 250-year-old elm tree - the Rosetti-Enescu family tree - was guarding the mansion as forever. When I stepped inside I found out the reason behind all this sought-after tranquility: there was an International Painters Summer School going on. The most passionate curator I have ever met revealed to me the stories of George Enescu's destiny as an artist born to give life to all the artistic tension that vibrates in the Romanian space and when I was about to leave I noticed the French musician who was minutely studying musical notes and laboriously working on his individual project close to an old piano...I believe this space is ready to be discovered by international musicians and artists because it is inviting and has a fantastic energy that is so inspirational - my favourite place in Tescani is Enescu's Hill (Movila lui Enescu) - a place I discovered in the big park surrounding the mansion and where, as I was told, Enescu used to climb up to get inspiration for his music - I did too and the magic combination of generous sun light, fresh fir tree smell and hight triggered a myriad of emotions immediately. Tescani is a magical place which is for sure worth experiencing on your own...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Faust at Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival is getting very close now and great performances are ready to be shown on stage. "Faust", directed by Silviu Purcarete, is one of them. It seems to be a massive undertaking - like any other play directed by Silviu Purcarete...
Laura Barnett from The Guardian writes the review of this ambitious play.

S. Purcarete and D. Buhagiar: The Mountain Giants

The last unfinished play written by Luigi Pirandello - The Mountain Giants - is a real challenge for any director, set designer, actors and entire team.
But the internationally awarded director Silviu Purcarete and the highly talented young set designer Dragos Buhagiar, together with the actors from the National Theatre in Iasi have taken up the challenge and came up with a remarkable production to experience. I saw the play in Iasi 2 months ago and I took part in the talk with the actors after the play and I can say it was indeed a remarkable play - the very thin line between fiction and reality and fictitious reality is a real delight of both the intellect and the senses. The very complex structure of images, sound, lights, costumes, high tech, make-up and messages could only be mastered by masters...Spectacular!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pitesti: the Brainwash 'Re-education'

Beyond Torture: The Gulag of Pitesti is a documentary on a terrifying truth - in 1949, Soviet activists started to take young people from universities or high-schools and send them to a 're-education' prison in the city of Pitesti to turn them into communist thinkers... Father George Calciu says: "Many of us died, many of us got mad, but in some of us the good triunphed...They tried to destroy our souls." But he and a few others survived to tell the truth and even forgive their opressors.
This DVD contains impressive paintings by the young artist Sorin Feraru.
In my opinion, a continent, a world who do not know these past events is doomed to repeat them - in one way or another...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Anamaria Marinca: The new 'Meryl Streep'

Anamaria Marinca is a young actress that I personally admire - for her mysterious grace and for her intense and controlled force as an actress. Every time I see her I admire her spiritual balance that comes from the inside - from hard work, fight with texts but also personal character. Inevitably, she reminds me of the force of Meryl Streep... Probably already famous for her awards and also intriguing but warm smile, Ms Marinca, I'm sure, has many more things to show in both films and theatre.
At the moment, you can see her in 4.48 Psychosis, by Sarah Kane at Young Vic in London. As we know, this text is hard even to read let alone to act on stage - but Anamaria is ready to take the plunge and act it as a solo monologue - ay, I'm so sorry I'm gonna miss it! I hope some of you can make it tough...

4 3 2 - Cristian Mungiu

The year 2007 brought the director Cristian Mungiu the greatest film award in Europe: Palme d'Or at Cannes with the most acclaimed film - 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.
Needless to dwell on the story of abortion during the totalitarian regime, I must emphasize the art of silence that the young generation of Romanian directors seem to master so well and want to develop it further into 'unbearable suspense', laconic space, implied messages or even horror. Also, the talent of young actors like Anamaria Marinca or Laura Vasiliu proves to be extremely creative.
On the other hand, the movie is absolutely shocking and I think that movie-lovers should get introduced first to the context of this film story in order to be prepared to receive it as the judges at Cannes did and avoid feeling 'unconnected' to the characters in the end.