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Transsilvania International Film Festival 2014

FIPRESCI Prize: "Calvary"

Now in its 13th year, the Transilvania International Film Festival Cluj-Napoca — TIFF for short — ran from 30 May to 8 June: ten packed and lively days of screenings, workshops, panel discussions and seminars, concerts and — with the aid of an impressive line-up of sponsors including HBO, Silva (the local beer) and Raiffeisen Bank — its legendary parties.

Romania's second largest city, Cluj hosts a suite of festivals all year round and is currently vying for the crown of European City of Culture in 2021. One reason for its vibrant arts and social scene is the very large, multi-lingual university of 20,000 students. Throughout the week its  final year graduates could be seen parading through the streets with bouquets  and diplomas for their own valedictory ceremonies. School was out, and there was  a palpable sense of celebration in the air.

TIFF courted this bright young audience with a very wide-ranging programme  of over 200 films, bookended by Stephen Frears' Philomena and Richard  Linklater's Boyhood. In between were — among other things — spotlights  on Ireland, the Czech Republic and the Young German Cinema, a documentary  section, mini-tributes to Nicolas Philibert, Iulian Mihu and Peter Solan,  a substantial programme devoted to the current Romanian cinema and several  special events such as a screening of FW Murnau's Faust with live accompaniment.

Tudor Giurgiu, the Festival President, says TIFF is no longer trying to play the Dracula card, though this didn't stop Vlad the Impaler, sporting 3D specs, from starring on the festival posters. And fans of horror, fantasy,  bizarre and cult cinema were handsomely catered for in three sections, No Limit,  Shadows (a strand of short films) and Midnight Delirium. Open-air screenings  were well attended despite cold, rainy weather at the start of the week, with  blankets thoughtfully provided by the festival and plum brandy on hand for  additional internal central heating.

It is TIFF's policy to avoid soulless shopping mall multiplexes, and the festival screenings were held in a wide range of venues, from a cinema tucked away in the middle of a working class housing estate on the edge of town to a  magnificent private screening room in the city's military headquarters and a Lutheran church.

This year's TIFF also launched a 'Save the Big Screen' campaign to revive Romania's fast-disappearing cinemas (there are, according to Giurgiu, just 30 independent movie theatres in the entire country, as against 630 in 1989). Part  of this is a crowd-funding campaign to restore the city's extraordinary, derelict film archive as a cinema and community centre.

The FIPRESCI jury was assigned to a thematic strand called Eye for an Eye, consisting of a dozen films on the subject of revenge. One might have expected  bloody vigilante thrillers to dominate (and these were by no means absent), but  the overall programme proved, in fact, extremely diverse in setting, subject and  register. More about it in a separate report. While there were several strong contenders, the FIPRESCI prize went  to Calvary, John Michael McDonagh's black, metaphysical comedy. The winner in the main competition was the Spanish psychological drama  Stockholm, while Debra Winger, Krzysztof Zanussi and Florin  Zamfirescu received the festival's honorary awards. (Sheila Johnson)

Cluj (Romania, Transsilvania International Film Festival, May 30 — June 8, 2014). Prize: Calvary by John Michael McDonagh (Ireland/UK, 2013, Eye for an Eye section). Jury: Sheila Johnston, Great Britain ("The Independent", "Sight and Sound"), Oleksii Pershko, Ukraine (""), Catalin Olaru, Romania ("Cultura magazine"). Print source: Protagonist Pictures, 4th Floor, Waverley House, 7-10 Noel Street, London W1F 8GQ, UK. Tel: +44 207 734 9000,


A Dark Week of the Soul. Sheila Johnston reviewed the FIPRESCI prize winner Calvary by John Michael McDonagh. arrow.
Eye For An Eye. Section of revenge movies at Transilvania International Film Festival 2014 — The Bully Trilogy. Catalin Olaru's report. arrow.
The Art of Vengeance. As everybody knows, Vlad Tepes, born in Transylvania Wallachia voivode, who inspired Bram Stoker to create his most famous character, Dracula, was a vindictive man. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he inspired the creation of Eye for an Eye, a special programme of films about revenge at the 13th Transylvania International Film Festival. Oleksii Pershko's report. arrow.



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Cluj-Napoca 2014

bullet. Index
bullet. A Dark Week of the Soul
bullet. Eye for an Eye
bullet. The Art of Vengeance

Language editor:
Sheila Johnston