Cinema mon amour

( Czech Republic, Romania / 2015 )
Cinema mon amour - poster
Cinema Mon Amour
CINEMA, MON AMOUR follows the story of Viktor Purice - manager, former projectionist and lifetime cinephile and his two loyal employees, Cornelia & Lorena, in their everyday battle to preserve Dacia Panoramic Cinema in Piatra Neamt - one of the last remaining cinemas in Romania today.
Having lived through “the golden age” of cinema, Viktor dreams of bringing back the good old glory days, yet struggles to keep up with the new harsh reality. In a theater that lacks heating and is slowly falling apart, with no support from the State who owns the place, it’s almost a Don Quixote fight.
Formats: Digital Copy, DVD
Running Time: 70/52 min.
Theme: Arts and Culture, Cinema, Media
Language(s): Romanian
Subtitles: English
Director(s): Alexandru Belc
Producer(s): Tudor Giurgiu, Radovan Sibrt, Viktoria see all »
Cinematographer: Tudor Vladimir Panduru
Editor(s): Ion Ioachim Stroe
Excluded regions: Romania, Czech Republic, see all »
Cinema mon amour

Press

  • With its world premiere last night at DOK Leipzig, Cinema, Mon Amour can be watched and interpreted in many ways. It is an ode to cinema and also a frustrated scream about negligence and indifference. It is an homage to a life spent in a movie theatre, a life lived (literally and metaphorically) through cinema. It is nostalgia, but also enthusiasm, perseverance and obstinacy.
    Part of the Save the Big Screen campaign (read the news), Alexandru Belc’s documentary focuses on the Dacia Panoramic cinema in the Romanian city of Piatra Neamţ, a place with 85,000 inhabitants and a single, one-screen cinema, struggling to survive state budget cuts and improvising in order to offer minimal comfort to its visitors. We see everything through the eyes of Victor Purice, the manager, who, together with his two aids, Cornelia and Lorena, refuses to surrender and is ready to do anything in order to “keep screening”.

    Starting his career in the 1970s, Purice was a projectionist at the Dacia Panoramic for four decades. He takes care of everything in the 630-seat theatre, and even though he puts on a brave face, the situation is truly dire. Owned by RomâniaFilm, a national company administered by the Ministry of Culture, the cinema has next to no funding. During the cold winters, there is almost no heat, and the employees even make tea to keep their clients – “our masters”, as Purice puts it – warm. “We should burn two seats at every screening; that should solve the heating problem,” says Purice, half-jokingly.

    Without giving any solutions, the documentary revels in following Purice, whose rock-star charisma keeps the cinema on the right track. Not only its manager, but also its mason, painter, programmer, plumber and so on, he is nostalgic, reminiscing about the full-house screenings of the olden days (“When we screened Titanic, we had 907 viewers here. The biggest amount of money I have ever seen,” he says at one point, endearingly mixing nostalgia with the financial satisfaction of a once-successful manager). But Purice is also willing to adapt to a new era, improvising solutions in the absence of funding. He is offered new seats by a heritage cinema in Germany, but there is no money to transport the seats to Piatra Neamţ.

    Luminous in spite of its dark topic, Cinema, Mon Amour is not a declaration of war on the state’s “grey men” who, following bad management and a very controversial law, sold the majority of Romania’s 400 cinemas to private investors who then turned them into casinos, clubs and restaurants. Today, fewer than 30 of those cinemas are still active, many facing the same challenges as Dacia. There is a scene when Purice tries to contact his management: nobody answers. There is another when the manager talks to Laura Baron, a representative of RomâniaFilm whose position bobs along the vague, ill-omened waters of “we know it's bad, but we have to check how bad it is”. Purice says nothing, but his eyes are eloquent: the show must go on.
    Cinema, Mon Amour: Fighting against extinction
    by Stefan Dobroiu
  • Award-winning director and the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) organizer Tudor Giurgiu wanted to make a documentary about the state of Romanian cinemas, but after hearing some of the great stories of cinema employees, he expanded his scope.

    Read also: Making a real difference: the fight to save Romania’s silver screens

    Cinema mon amour is the documentary through which Giurgiu, along with director Alexandru Belc, editor Ioachim Stroe and researcher Ilinca Micu, presents a tale of loneliness, friendship, hope and unfulfilled dreams, the story behind every movie theater which still stands.

    Cinema mon amour follows the story of Victor Purice – manager, former projectionist and lifetime cinephile along with his two employees, Cornelia and Lorena, in their everyday battle to preserve Dacia Panoramic Cinema in Piatra Neamt – one of the last remaining cinemas in Romania today. Having lived through “the golden age” of cinema, Victor dreams of bringing back the good old glory days, yet struggles to keep up with the new harsh reality. In a theater that lacks heating and is slowly falling apart, with no support from the State who owns the place, it’s almost a Don Quixote fight.

    The premiere Cinema mon amour took place on December 14, 2015, in the presence of the protagonists of the movie, film crew, the former and the actual Minister of Culture, several film critics, journalists and cinephiles. Asked by BR what solution does the Ministry of Culture has for this problem, taking also into consideration the recent law that closed up four cinemas in Bucharest due to high seismic risk law withdrawn by the President in early November 2015, the minister Vlad Alexandrescu explained that
    “it’s a matter of re-organising the entire system which ran bankrupt. Until now we managed to have a debate with all the parts involved, a meeting where we outlined realistic and immediate objectives in order to reform the system completely.”
    Also, asked for an answer at the question “are you going to save the silver screen” from Tudor Giurgiu’s campaign, the minister Alexandrescu said
    “we will save whatever it is still there to save. The silver screen was put into my service in a really deteriorated stage. Don’t expect to do a miracle, I will try to do whatever is left to do”.

    BR additionally talked with director Alexandru Belc about the project to find out what will happen with the other stories that his team has discovered for this documentary.
    “I don’t yet, but for sure it will be made public at some point. There are still over 300 hours of filmed materials, from which a great part was the Piatra Neamt story.”

    Read also: “Nobody really knew the actual situation of all the Romanian cinemas”, says director Alexandru Belc

    Currently, the documentary Cinema mon amour is available to see online, on HBO GO.

    The premise may be summarized thus. Once the pride of a nation, an effective propaganda machine and a means of educating the masses during the communist regime, Romania’s movie theaters now lie abandoned and forgotten by the public. Of the more than 400 theaters in existence in the early ’90s, fewer than 30 are still functional, making Romania the country with the fewest screens per number of inhabitants in Europe. With this statistics, we only hope to “Save the silver screen”.

    The handful of theaters that have survived are not thriving; a passerby may not even realize they are still functional, that someone replaces the posters now and then, that inside there still are people at work, for whom these theaters mean everything. They are the people in the projection room, technicians, managers and usherettes, a world in a dolce far niente state, waiting resignedly for the day when the doors are locked for good.
    “Save the silver screen” campaign finally presents Cinema mon amour
    by Oana Vasiliu

awards & accolades

  • Trieste Film Festival - Cultural Resistance Award
  • Jihlava IDFF - Silver Eye Award Nominee

Festival participation

  • Trieste Film Festival 2016
  • Jihlava IDFF 2015
  • DOK Leipzig 2015
  • DocPoint Helsinki 2015
  • Tempo Documentary Festival 2015
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015

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Additional Info


Production Company: Libra Film Production, Pink Productions, HBO Europe
Distribution Company: CAT&Docs

Cinema mon amour

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