Radu Jude and Adrian Cioflâncă on „Amintiri de pe Frontul de Est“ / interview

Radu Jude: Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1977. After taking a film degree at the city’s Media University, he first worked as an assistant director before making his debut short film in 2006. His feature debut „The Happiest Girl in the World“, which screened in the 2009 Forum, received worldwide attention. He won the Silver Bear for Best Director with „Aferim!“ at the 2015 Berlinale and his films „Uppercase Print“ and „The Exit of the Trains“ both premiered in the 2020 Forum. In 2021, he won the Golden Bear with „Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn“ while two of his short films screened at Locarno and Venice.

Adrian Cioflâncă: Born in Piatra Neamt, Romania in 1974. His work as a historian focuses chiefly on the Holocaust, communism and political violence. He is director of the Wilhelm Filderman Center for the Study of Jewish History in Romania and has been a consultant on several films and theatre plays. His film The Exit of the Trains had its world premiere at the 2020 Berlinale. Like his previous work, he also made Amintiri de pe Frontul de Est in cooperation with the Romanian director Radu Jude.

What was your starting point for “Amintiri de pe Frontul de Est”?

It all started with the discovery of a photo album which presents the military campaign of a Romanian cavalry regiment on the Eastern Front, in 1941-1942. This album, which belongs to the National History Museum of Romania, presents an almost idyllic, heroic version of the „Christian crusade against Bolshevism”. We juxtaposed the photos with documents from the Military Archives, which shed a different light. The documentary texts maintain a contradictory and complementary dialogue with the photos about genocide, war and human condition.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

The whole idea of the film is to present this photo album and to comment on it, so it is quite radically simple: a ready-made we commented upon. We let the film silent, after we tried different ideas for a soundtrack: music or voice over or ambient sound. In the end, the lesson of Stan Brakhage helped us: most of Brakhage’s films are silent, since he wants the viewers to really see the images. We want the same from the audience: to really see these images in a new light and to analyse them. Because of all these, there are no privileged moments in the film, so we are not able to choose.

What do you like about the short form?

The freedom, the lack of pressure, the joy of experimenting. One of us (Radu) is more experienced and made a few feature films and knows that the commercial pressure is bigger for these films. The short format is a haven. Plus, as a Zen quote says: “In the spring scenery there is nothing superior, nothing inferior; flowering branches grow naturally, some short, some long.”

Photo © Dorothea Tuch

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„[…] le-am filmat la o rezoluție mare, astfel încât să ne putem apropia de ele, să vedem detalii care scapă ochiului. De altfel, multe din aceste efecte au fost făcute după ce am văzut o primă variantă de montaj pe ecran mare. Asta înseamnă cinema: să proiectezi imagini pe un ecran mare cu scopul de a vedea mai bine.“
an interview with Radu Jude by Iulia Blaga for Liber Tatea

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„[…] the new element is the fact, that when the killing of civillians appear, when mass killing appear and there are traces of that in the photos and we made it very clear in the text that we use in the film, then the images are not heroic, not so rediculious, not so innocent anymore. You can see behind them was not just war, but also a campaign of a fixed termination and ethnic cleansing.“
an interview with Radu Jude by Knut Elstermann for rbb.

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