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Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2015 - Alexandru Solomon Press Conference
16 March 2015
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The Romanian director Alexandru Solomon was present at a press conference at the 17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, which this year pays tribute to his work.

The director was introduced by Dimitris Kerkinos, who oversaw the tribute: “Alexandru Solomon is considered one of the greatest Romanian documentary filmmakers, with films that deal with the country’s historical past as well as its present day reality. It should be pointed out that this is the first time the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival is honouring a Romanian documentary filmmaker.”

Alexandru Solomon, (photo by Motionteam)
Speaking about changes that took place in Romania after the collapse of the Ceaușescu regime, Solomon observed: “Documentary films had a hard time getting back on their feet after 1990. This is because during the communist era, they were considered instruments of propaganda. After the regime’s downfall, the studios that used to make documentaries vanished, while creators had difficulties regarding how to adopt a new stance in their work. Lately, new kinds of documentaries have appeared, like observation documentary, while new directors are especially interested in social themes.”

With regards to how he combines the past and future in his films, he noted that his goal is to see how past events affect life today, and to try to measure their impact. Regarding his film The Great Communist Bank Robbery (2004), which recreates the circumstances of a real robbery to prove how it was used as propaganda, Alexandru Solomon admits that he incorporated many elements of fiction into his documentary. “There’s always an element of fiction in documentaries. People think that documentaries are completely objective, but this is not the case. Fiction and documentaries are like communicating vessels. Right now, in Romanian cinema there exists a documentary approach. I’m especially interested in what’s happening in Romanian theater, which has also been influenced by documentaries. There are instances of directors that travel to the actual locations where scenes of their films take place along with their actors, to work on the spot. This gives their work immediacy, since they often deal with important matters that Romania is preoccupied with.”
Solomon with festival programmer Dimitris Kerkinos (photo by Motionteam)

In his film Cold Waves (2007), Alexandru Solomon refers to the propaganda of the radio station Radio Free Europe during the cold war. “Radio Free Europe was used as a propaganda tool by the American government. I wanted to show the ambivalence of radio, which on one hand is a medium that is used to inform and on the other is used for propaganda. My intention was to visualize the audio material that was available, the voices of the newscasters. The reason I wanted to do this was because in the past people loved those voices and the newscasters had become celebrities without people actually knowing what they looked like. I think that radio is a gentler medium than television, which bombards you with images. Many people believe that the revolution of 1989 would never have taken place, were it not for Radio Free Europe. After the revolution and the death of Ceaușescu, the power of this medium was lost. It was as if radio in Romania ceased to exist in a  day“.
The connection between the past and today also interested Alexandru Solomon in his 2010 documentary Kapitalism – Our Improved Formula. The film traces the roots of the country’s corruption back to the Ceaușescu regime and shows the arrogance of millionaires (most ex-secret agents). How did he approach them and get them to participate in the film? “Cinema continues to be an appealing art form for these kinds of people. They accepted my invitation because they thought they would become film stars. Also, I had no intention of standing opposite them as a judge, despite the fact that I didn’t agree with their behavior.” The film was screened (in a TV version) on ARTE, and subsequently became a motto in the protests that have taken place in Romania in the last four years.  
Alexandru Solomon also mentioned the programme Adopted documentary, which is being implemented as part of the One World Romania festival, which he is the director of. As he explained, through the programme, non-governmental organisations ‘adopt’ a documentary and show it to their audiences. Finally, regarding his future cinematic plans, Alexandru Solomon revealed that he will be filming a documentary in the Caucasus region, about science, utopia, eternal life and how people dream of improving human life. “I present the Russian tradition of utopian medicine which aims to improve the human race, by following an approach which is Darwinian in conception”, he said characteristically, wrapping up the press conference.

Source: Thessaloniki Documentary Festival official website
  Kapitalism - Our Improved Formula
  Cold Waves
  Great Communist Bank Robbery
  Dimitris Kerkinos
  Alexandru Solomon
  Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
  17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2015 - Main Tributes
  17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2015, Greek programme
  17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Highlights & main sidebar events
  17th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Doc Market
  Thessaloniki Documentary Festival on Twitter
  Thessaloniki Documentary Festival on Facebook
  Thessaloniki Documentary Festival official website
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