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TIFF 2014 - Interview with Tudor Jurgiu: “In Romania, people are not encouraged to see Romanian films or European films or anything but Hollywood”
© Tara Karajica
First Publication: altcine 7-6-2014
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After travelling to different countries and film festivals, Tudor Cristian Jurgiu΄s The Japanese Dog grabs another award, that of the Romanian Days section at this year΄s Transilvania IFF. altcine met him there.

Can you tell us about your background?

Tudor Cristian Jurgiu: I come from a smaller town, not from Bucharest and I’ve studied film in Bucharest for four years. Afterwards, I was lucky enough to receive this script for The Japanese Dog from Tudor Jurgiu, the producer of the film. I didn’t write it. I received it and I said that I wanted to do it if I could rewrite some of it. 

What did you find attractive in this particular subject?

T.C.J.: I wasn΄t extremely enthusiastic about the script at the beginning but there were some things I really loved about it. It was very subtle and the first half of the script was about a lonely old man living in a village after the floods. I took it as a challenge to work with this, to suggest the feelings and the thoughts of a man who doesn΄t really talk to anybody, who΄s more isolated. We can only use gestures and movements and images and we don΄t really get too much information from the dialogue and that΄s what I found attractive in the script. 

The Japanese Dog

Life, hope, survival, family relations and even death seem to be of really great importance to you. Is it so?

T.C.J.: I chose this story because of the family relations and because of the way the characters choose or maybe don΄t choose the way they are, the way they are so locked up and how they tend to isolate themselves and really have this problem of communication with others. I am really attracted to this kind of characters who have dignity but who also don΄t show their weaknesses but have them. I really find this kind of contrast between strength and weakness very emotional in a character; the way the weakness sometimes just breaks out and you cannot be so stoic and controlled anymore. 

Are solitary and isolated characters are attractive to you? 

T.C.J.: Not in general. Now, I’m working on a different kind of story but I was interested in this when I did this film. 

There is a big cinematic heritage in Romania and with the Romanian New Wave that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, how do you see its success and where do you see it going?

T.C.J.: Well, I really appreciate some of the Romanian films that became famous, especially Cristi Puiu΄s films. Finally, Romanian films have great dialogues and characters and the actors are great and there’s a new vibe, a new feeling, a new way of looking at the world, at things. I think, for a long time in 70΄s, 80΄s and even in the 90΄s, films were not concerned with what was going on around. All the films were historic films, comedies and then, in the 90΄s after the communist regime fell, everybody felt like they could say anything and everything went into this exaggerated craziness. With Cristi Puiu΄s films they found a new kind of balance and an authentic way to look at the world that wasn΄t a reaction to something. I mean it was – everything is a reaction to something – but it wasn΄t an aggressive reaction to something. It was just a new way of paying attention to the things around you and gathering stories from what was going on in your neighbor΄s house. I don΄t know why they were so successful. They were successful at festivals and they weren΄t really blockbusters. 

What about the film deposit that they are trying to save right now? Do you support this initiative?

T.C.J.: I don΄t really know the history of it in detail but I think it΄s a great thing to do this. I subscribe to the initiative. I think that any initiative or action that gathers people together to work in one direction is good and maybe this kind of movement around the film deposit is not just about the film deposit. It might make people think more about Romanian films. I think that in Romania, the distribution of Romanian films is really bad; the authorities don΄t really take care of local cinemas, neighborhood cinemas and people΄s only options are multiplexes and American blockbusters. I think this is one of the biggest problems. People are not encouraged to see Romanian films or European films or anything but Hollywood.

What is your notion of Balkan Cinema?

T.C.J.: I think people try to find common features and it΄s easier to teach them to somebody for example but I think it΄s just a didactic purpose. And if you come to study films and analyze them in detail, they don΄t have so many things in common. I think you should take every director for himself.

What are you next projects?

T.C.J.: I΄m working on two stories because it΄s so hard to get funding for a film; they take so long so you just need to have more projects. I am working on two stories. One of them is inspired by my short film, In the Fishbowl, and that΄s actually what I am working on right now. It΄s about a couple that keep breaking up and making up.

  The Japanese Dog
  In the Fishbowl
  Cristi Puiu
  Tudor Christian Jurgiu
  Transilvania International Film Festival
  The Japanese Dog: Starting over
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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