Andra Tarara: “It’s emotional expensive to make documentaries about relationships in your own family”

1 December, 2020

Andra Tarara is the author of one of the best and most touching Romanian documentaries of 2020, “Us Against Us”. A debut that had its world premiere at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival (Ji.hlava IDFF), and in Romania it could be seen online at the Les Films de Cannes à Bucarest festival. A gripping documentary portraying the director’s courage in filming her father who suffers from schizophrenia and in letting herself filmed by him, through a series of dialogues of a disquieting sincerity.

Also this year, at the Astra Festival in Sibiu, Andra Tarara presented in premiere, together with David Schwartz and Roland Ibold, the feature film “August 23, 1944/2019”, whose protagonists are some of the survivors of the anti-Semitic persecutions in the ’30s-’40s , who reflect upon the political and personal significance of the historic event on August 23, 1944, when Romania withdrew from the alliance with Nazi Germany and turned its weapons against it. During the spring lockdown, she also made together with David Schwartz a somewhat experimental short film, “The Land That Never Sleeps”, as part of a project initiated by the European Film Festival.

A graduate of UNATC, the Cinematography section, and with a master’s degree in Visual Anthropology at SNSPA, Andra Tarara released her first film as a director in 2018, the short documentary “A Death in My Family”, selected at several local festivals, as well as from abroad. A film about the final days of the filmmaker’s grandmother, before passing away, made for her third year final exam at UNATC. She currently works as an archivist in the Image Archive of the Romanian Peasant Museum.

We started our discussion with Us Against Us, because most and foremost it’s a film about her relationship with her father, who filmed his family and especially his daughter until the onset of his illness in the early 2000s. Andra Tarara includes in the documentary excerpts from these VHS recordings made by her father when she was little.

“I started taking pictures when I was very young. The first photos I took on film were when I was seven or eight. One of the fragments of VHS footage, which I couldn’t keep in the film because the sound wasn’t good, shows me asking him to let me look through the camera. I saw him filming all the time, I found it fascinating and I wanted to try as well. At some point, he started to let me use the camera more and more. So I used to take pictures all the time, but I didn’t think about it as a possible profession. It was simply my way of archiving what was around me, which was exactly what my father used to do”, the director remembers.

“After he got ill, he stopped filming. Even the VHS player broke down at one point, so we stopped looking at the tapes as well. They ended up in a closet and I found them much later. In the meantime, I had almost forgotten about this stage in my life”, she adds.

Although now, in retrospect, she believes that her father’s passion for filming had a decisive influence on her desire to study film, Andra Tarara says that in adolescence it didn’t seem that he would have wanted this for her: “On the contrary, when I decided to study film, although they liked the idea, my parents were a little panicked that I wouldn’t be able to make a living from it.”

Born in Giurgiu on February 22, 1994 (but registered on February 21, because her father was so excited that he filled in the wrong date when he declared her birth), the director states that she wasn’t a true cinephile in adolescence.

“I watched David Fincher’s movies and whatever else was at hand. Pretty much what was popular among teenagers at the time. I wasn’t going further than that. There was no cinema in my town. I was just taking pictures and filming at festivities, and that was it. But it didn’t seem like I was doing anything special, since we were all doing it. I mean, we caught this period when DSLRs were affordable, so many of my colleagues had cameras and took pictures. I think that’s why it seemed pretty common to me. Maybe I was just doing it more systematically than other colleagues, and this curiosity kept me going for a long time, and from a certain point on I started looking for artistic qualities as well”, she recalls.

She was in a Mathematics-Computer Science class and was very good at math and physics, so everyone saw her going to the Politehnica University in Bucharest. “But I couldn’t see myself doing that my whole life, because I’d get bored with it”,  she explains.

In the 11th grade, she thought for the first time that she might like to study Film, so she went to the training courses at UNATC, in Bucharest: “I didn’t really know what a director or a cameraman does. I just went there to see what I might like. And I didn’t like directing. In fact, I got scared, because everyone seemed to be very smart and prepared, and I was so out of my depth. They were pretty much just talking about some of the greatest filmmakers in the world, whom I had never heard of before. But more than that, I think I was afraid of the idea of fiction. It seemed that you had to know everything in advance, to be very well prepared. For example, if you said that in your story the action takes place on a balcony, you would have been immediately interrupted with a bunch of questions: «What does the balcony look like? Where is it located? What’s the noise outside? Is it on a big boulevard or is it on a small and quiet street? What floor is it on?» And I had no idea about all these details, how to even get to these questions. It seemed interesting, but it made me very nervous.”

“After that, I thought about pursuing photography, because it felt more familiar, and so I went to UNArte (i.e. – the Arts University in Bucharest). I wanted to know more about their photo-video section. I met with a teacher there to see if it would be good for me. But I went back to UNATC, because he told me that it would still be a better choice for me. So the next year I went to the training courses at UNATC, for the Cinematography section, and I felt more at ease”, says Andra Tarara.

About her studies at UNATC (2013-2016), she says that every year was different and that she discovered things along the way.

“My mother says that as soon as I entered UNATC, she felt a sudden change in my behavior, since I was much more introverted before. Suddenly, I was working with a lot of people, I had become much more communicative. The first year was fascinating. Since I hadn’t had much contact with the film before, in the first year I had to make up a lot of ground, I watched a lot of movies, I went to several shootings. I had discovered another planet and it all seemed so cool”, the filmmaker remembers.

Between the first and second year, she made it to the Astra Festival in Sibiu with a short documentary she worked on as an operator, made by a colleague in the directing department, Ioana Grigore, with whom she would collaborate again in the future. She had become more and more interested in documentaries, to the detriment of fiction.

“In the second year, I had already discovered documentary film, so school didn’t seem so interesting anymore, because very little was done in this area. Although we had classes on documentary film that year, I felt that things were still taught as to prepare you for fiction. It doesn’t really matter what the character says and what’s the idea of the film, but you have to have nice lighting, get a great shot of the character, tell them how to hold their hands. I didn’t really understand this approach”, she explains.

“In the first year, I really looked for the aesthetic part. I liked going for the beautiful shots, looking for more special angles, setting the lights in a certain way. But at one point I got to the bottom of it and it didn’t feel as enough anymore. It started to frustrate me. Okay, we know how to make beautiful shots, but let’s talk more about the subject, about how that framing can actually help and what story we really want to tell by using them. This is where it didn’t work anymore, because we didn’t really have these discussions at school. Especially in my section, it was all more about the aesthetics”, adds Andra Tarara.

She says that her interest in documentary film appeared also because it felt like “you don’t have to know everything from the very beginning”: “It’s a process and a discovery and you learn things by doing. You don’t come with an already proved statement. It was like a quest, which seemed much more interesting and stimulating than me already coming with the answer, which I felt was happening in fiction.”

However, she admits that studying at UNATC helped her a lot, because otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to make films: “I can’t really say how much I learned from school, but it clearly brought me into this world, which I wouldn’t have had contact with otherwise, and it gave me legitimacy.”

She was the only female student in Cinematography in her year, but she says it was a coincidence, because in other years there were more female students, and now it has even reached 50/50: “I felt pressure at first, when I saw that heavy equipment, which my colleagues had no problems in carrying or using. It felt that I had to prove that I belonged there. The masculinity vibe in the classroom was so strong that I wasn’t sure it was my place there. The boys were very entitled, there was this manly thing, like they deserved to be there. If we look at history, being a camera operator has mostly been a men’s job, until recently. Now I can’t say how much it was pressure from outside or if it simply was something coming from my own insecurities, but I know for sure that in the first year I did some really heavy work involving the projectors and the camera and I was assistant on all the projects. Bottom line: a lot of carrying, lifting, setting projectors and heavy equipment just to show that I could. I wanted to prove myself that I have autonomy, that I don’t depend on anyone. After I showed myself that I could, it was okay, I slowed down and let the boys do the carrying. In the meantime, I had become friends with them, had a good relationship with my colleagues.”

In the third year, she decided to make her own film for the final exam, on which she would work both as an operator and a director. That’s how she made the short documentary A Death in My Family, about the final days of her grandmother, but also about her mother and grandfather, who watched over the dying woman.

For this film she used her share of the 35 mm color film stock she received from school, but she also had some digital footage.

“Initially, I started writing for a fiction film with a friend from directing. We didn’t finish it. When my grandmother’s condition started to get worse, I got very scared and found myself filming her. I forgot all about my project and went home with the camera. It all happened in the spur of the moment. I had become friends with Sorin Botoseneanu (i.e. -professor at UNATC ) and went to his classes all the time, although he wasn’t really my professor. One day I went to him and said, «Look, there is this thing with my grandmother, I feel like filming it. What do I do now?» He gave me Susan Sontag’s book, Regarding the Pain of Others, and sent me home. So I went and filmed. It was visceral. I didn’t know what was going to come out. I knew that if I used the school’s film stock, I had to show something at the end. I knew very well that I had to edit something. But I didn’t know that I would make a real film, which I would then send to festivals”, Andra Tarara recalls.

“It all went on impulse. Of course, I didn’t film the most dramatic moments. But after that, when I was in editing, face to face with the material, I started to question myself: Is it okay that I do this? I filmed for myself, surely, but is it okay to show something like that to the public? Who does it help? All kinds of questions began to arise. I still don’t have an answer. I still have ambivalent feelings towards this film”, admits the director.

She explains how she got to the final shape of the film, after the intention had been a different one: “The film is not just about my grandmother. Initially, that’s how I wanted it to be. I had seen her about two weeks before filming and she was in a much better state, she was talking, she was fully conscious. At that moment I thought it would be about her life and what she left behind, about memories and honoring her, about our life together. But when I returned, she wasn’t talking anymore. It was supposed to be a film with a lot of dialogue, but it has become a film that takes place almost entirely in silence. I was afraid to talk about something so delicate and I didn’t know how to do it. After all, the film is really my perspective on what happened, what I felt at the time. And I felt that it was only fair to go this way. What would I have to say about an epic subject such as death? I can only say how I lived this experience.”

A Death in My Family wasn’t well received by the examination board and, for this reason, it disappointed and frustrated her a lot. Bottom line, she says that the members of the board criticized the film as not being that “beautifully shot”: Why doesn’t it look more beautiful? Why did you go with a handheld camera? Why didn’t you set the lights properly? This film, so carelessly shot, could have been easily made with my mobile phone, and I didn’t even have to use the school’s film stock. It was quite brutal. At that moment, I felt that I was done. It’s been cool so far, but I can’t go on like this. It was frustrating, but not even as a filmmaker, but on a human level: «My grandmother dies in this film, and you criticize the camera setting? What do you mean it’s not beautiful enough? It shouldn’t be beautiful! Such things can’t be beautiful.» I didn’t understand what I was doing there and how I came to have this discussion.”

She had shown a first cut at the exam, but she knew she wanted to continue it, because she felt its potential: “I knew that it could be something more. I had seen the material, I knew what was there, but I didn’t know which direction to take with it. So I just started playing with the material. I worked with a colleague from editing in the same year as me. We worked and worked on it, but we didn’t get to the wanted result. So I went to fARAD, I submitted it to the documentary lab. It was amazing. At that time, it was coordinated by Mona Nicoara, and the sound workshop was held by Dana Bunescu. It was exactly what I was looking for, because I really got stuck with the sound part. I shot it all by myself at home, and the sound was recorded with a zoom I put somewhere in the room. The sound wasn’t okay at all and I didn’t know how to fix it. I didn’t have sync sound, because I used an old, noisy camera and all the sync sound was covered by the noise made by the camera engine. The whole workshop was very encouraging. They really liked the material and said that I have to finish it. After the sound workshop, Dana Bunescu gave some really useful tips on how the sound could be and how to continue. And we kept in touch.”

“fARAD was extremely encouraging, and I don’t know if I was still here today without that moment. Then, it felt like it really made sense to do that”, she also explains.

Because she wanted to continue studying documentary film, and UNATC did not yet have a master’s degree in it, she went to Visual Anthropology at SNSPA, where the late Vintila Mihailescu was the coordinator.

“UNATC did not yet have the master’s degree in documentary that it has now. They had a master in fiction. One option was to go to cinematography, which meant to continue doing what I had done so far. But I felt like I had exhausted the aesthetic part. Or I just wasn’t that interested anymore. I wouldn’t have gone to the master’s degree in fiction directing, because I had zero experience in working with actors. It was too scary. Another option was going to filmology. It seemed interesting, but it was very theoretical and I didn’t know what it was like. And I realized that what I really needed is to talk about subjects, how to approach them, how to work with people. Sorin Botoseneanu from UNATC directed me towards Vintila Mihailescu’s master. They were friends”, says the filmmaker.

Us Against Us started as a project within the master’s degree program at SNSPA, but she further developed it with Tangaj Production. So far, it’s the first and only film started within this master and which continued to have an autonomous life after.

The idea for the film came when she rewatched the VHS tapes with the family videos from her childhood, from which she thought she could use excerpts for A Death in My Family.

“I had watched the VHS tapes while working on A Death in My Family. I had already digitized them all. There were seven VHS tapes, with about 15 hours of footage. I had notes and a table of contents for each tape. I had mapped all the footage. Initially, I thought that A Death in My Family would have more dialogue, and I thought about inserting excerpts from the VHS tapes in-between the discussions about memories. The film came out differently, so then I used very little from the VHS footage. But I kept those tapes in mind. I thought the material on them was very cool and that maybe I will use it another time, on another occasion”, says the director.

While watching the family videos, she realized that her relationship with her father was extremely present: “I didn’t seem to remember it like that. It’s always me in front of the camera and him behind it, but he interacted a lot with me. So I had two important revelations. The first was that our relationship was different at some point in life, because at the time we weren’t very close and we didn’t keep in touch that much. And the second was the fact that my inclination towards film may have come from him. I had completely forgotten about that perspective. I just focused on other things. I mean, I wasn’t sure how I really got to film school. I felt that it was my own thing, that the choice came from me only. I took all the credit. I thought that my family had nothing to do with it, that they didn’t understand anything, and that I became an artist in this family just by myself. I was envious of my colleagues who came from artists’ families, because I thought that they had someone to talk to about this at home. Whereas I didn’t have any, and I believed that I got to that point just by myself.”

“As I was watching the tapes, I saw myself as a child giving directions while my father was filming me. Suddenly, my whole autobiographical narrative fell apart. Until then, I thought that film was my own discovery. But I could see now that this hadn’t been the case”, confesses Andra Tarara.

“I thought I should make a film about my relationship with my father at some point in my life. About how he relates to film and how I came to do that as a profession. The story of our common passion. To see if it’s that true that he passed it on to me. I put the idea on hold. I wrote it down in a notebook and it stayed there for a while. But when I had to choose a topic for my dissertation, nothing seemed to be that compelling. Everything that I thought of seemed to be less important and less stimulating. And I went back to the notebook where I had written down this idea that maybe I should make a film with my father. I went with a list of topics to the coordinator of my paper, Bogdan Iancu. He asked me to tell him only the one I wanted to do the most. So I told him I wanted to make a film with my dad, about this thing that we share, which is filming. He agreed, he was very encouraging. There also needed to be a written paper, with a theoretical framework and then the case study – the film and the methodology behind it. I felt at home at SNSPA, because I found exactly what I was looking for: discussions on how you work with people, what kind of issues might come up when you reach a point. Like an ethics on representation. How do you present them? What do you give them in return? You enter their personal space and take something from them. But what’s it like for them? Okay, since I had already made a family film, some of these questions had already come up, but I hadn’t had anyone to talk to”, says the director.

She was aware that it was a difficult process, which would bring several issues, both because it was an extremely personal subject and she hadn’t spoken to her father about the illness he was struggling with, schizophrenia.

“I had some concerns from the very beginning. Especially since my parents had already broken up by that time. My father lived in the countryside. And I think he had already started talking a little bit about his mental illness. So I thought that at some point this may come into play in the film as well. Okay, I want to make a film about film, but he might be talking about other things, too. And that’s because our relationship was also influenced by his relationship with my mom, his relationship with his illness and his relationship with his father”, says the director.

She admits that all these things scared her, but she wouldn’t have made this film if there hadn’t been hope to also work as some sort of therapy. The fact that she reconnected with her father through this project was also a way to protect herself: “I felt more in control when I had the camera with me. That way I was in an environment that I controlled. It was also a pretext to purposely take time and just do that, because I was living in Bucharest, with my friends, and my life was somewhat inaccessible to my family at that time. I saw them only from time to time, I wasn’t going to Giurgiu that often, although it’s quite near. But I kept a distance. If it wasn’t for the film, I wouldn’t have taken the time to go there and talk about those things.”

She started from the beginning with the idea of ​​using two cameras, one that she would give to her father and another that would stay with her, in order to film their dialogues from both perspectives and at the same time: “I had watched the VHS tapes, where I was the one filmed by him. The first thought was that I wanted to return this gesture, to be me who films him this time. Then I thought it would be nice for him to get and use a camera again. I wanted to see what happens, maybe he would like to start filming again.”

She relied a lot on the spontaneity of their meetings, so she didn’t tell him much beforehand about what she wanted to talk about. But he got excited, and he started calling her and telling her how he would see the film. She interrupted him and asked him to keep his ideas for when they would meet, in order to film the discussions live.

Andra Tarara also admits that only while making the film did she realize that in fact her father suffered from schizophrenia and that, despite his optimism, he had not completely recovered and was still struggling with the illness: “The word «schizophrenia» had reached my ears from time to time when I was younger, but it wasn’t very clear what was wrong. I was left with the impression that my father was depressed – that’s what they used to call it in general -, but I never went on reading more about it. It wasn’t until now that I started to search for its true meaning.”

The stylistic convention was that everything that appears in the documentary should be filmed by the two of them, both when it comes to the images from the present time and the images from the family archive.

“When we reached the editing stage, the first big thing was deciding on the structure. I realized that dialogues make a lot of sense if I keep them as wholes – not to combine a dialogue with another dialogue or to cut in with something else. Even if there are mid cuts, I wanted to keep the natural flow of the discussion as much as possible. It was cool that we had a topic as a starting point, I was asking things, and then he was taking the discussion to a totally different place. There was a good dynamic”, Andra Tarara details.

She didn’t have this idea from the beginning, of splitting the screen in two for dialogues where possible. She put the takes side by side during editing as a working option, to easily see what takes or shots she could use for each moment. But she realized that it could be left like that and still work very well. And Dana Bunescu, who was an editing consultant on the film, encouraged her to keep the split screen. Andra Tarara says that she relied on “the tension between the two perspectives of the same event, side by side and in conflict. Something that I also used in the title, and I further built the film with this idea in mind.” She later realized, as some of the people who saw the film also came to tell her, that the title Us Against Us is actually “the perfect metaphor for schizophrenia – you’re fighting with yourself”: “Now it’s obvious to me, too, but that wasn’t the starting point. I had come to this title in another way.”

The second important editing decision was to introduce a lighter sequence after each dialogue scene, which would give some break to the viewer, so as not to reach “a wearying buildup”. This is how she used fragments from her father’s current video diary, which she urged him to make, but most of all excerpts from the VHS videos from her childhood: “Selecting the VHS excerpts was actually the most time consuming. The first condition was that it had to be footage filmed by him, not someone else. And that reduced the workload a lot. The second criterion was to choose as much as possible the moments where you can feel his presence, where he interacts in a certain way with me from behind the camera.”

She knows that this film helped her a lot to better understand her father and to reconcile with the past: “Otherwise, I really wouldn’t have gotten to his perspective. I would have been just like in the film: «Why have you neglected me?» It’s true, somehow I knew there was a medical problem. My mother used to explain it to me. So, on the surface, I wouldn’t judge him, I wouldn’t think my father had left me. But I missed him, and it hurt. But without this film we wouldn’t have had this discussion and understand how difficult it was for him, too. It kind of kills me, since he could actually be a very cool father. I regret not having him around as much.”

“During the filming period, I got angry, I got upset, I was aggressive with my father, I would often leave him and go back home. Only then, during those long months of editing, did I digest everything that was said there and what it meant to me. Perhaps the editing stage was, in fact, the most therapeutic moment. Especially seeing myself on screen. It’s a very tough mirror to face. It’s been three years since I shot the film, and my opinions have changed a lot. I think that I am harsh and aggressive in the film (laughs). It’s very difficult for me to watch myself”, says Andra Tarara.

She admits that she was afraid that she would portray her father as a vulnerable person through this film: “At one point I asked myself: «Will he be a credible character?» It was pretty clear that his views made a lot of sense, especially in relation to the medical system, and that he raised some real and very important issues. But will the audience give credibility to this character? Or they’ll find out something’s wrong and that his disease hasn’t actually disappeared? So then, won’t that undermine the discourse?”

“Even now, I think it’s hard to come with an answer to this question. But I hope that, by the decision I took, the discourse won’t be undermined. It’s true that he started having new episodes after the film was completed, and not taking your pills anymore is a very slippery slope. And it’s clear you’re never really in control. On the other hand, he coped very well. He had some victories in confronting his illness. Although in the film I don’t really show that, he succeeded in convincing me that he’s actually doing well, that he is on the right path of getting cured. I imagined that this is how it will be from now on, that we can resume our relationship and that this is the happy ending”, says the director.

Photo Credit: Silviu Ghetie

Since her father’s condition got worse after the film was completed, Andra Tarara decided to change the end of the documentary, by introducing this exact information, because in its initial form she felt it was problematic: “It would have been dangerous to keep the message that it’s okay not to take your pills, especially if it’s seen by someone who really needs treatment.”

Although she now knows that Us Against Us can help raise awareness on an issue such as schizophrenia and the need to discuss its effects, Andra Tarara says she didn’t start with this idea: “In my head, I wasn’t even making a film about schizophrenia. It was rather my father who brought this direction into the film. For him it was important to show that he was still active. To show his merits, in fact. At one point, it seemed that he saw it as an opportunity for social rehabilitation, to show that a schizophrenic patient can do so many things. As the project began to take the shape of a film and the prospect of being seen emerged, he started thinking how his story could help others. He thought he would give them hope, because he keeps saying in the film that doctors don’t give you any hopes, they tell you that you will never get well. So he actually wanted to say that you can surpass the illness and live a good life. It took me longer to realize that this was an important direction for the film. And that it was important to him.”

Unfortunately, her father recently died of cancer: “There is no direct link, in the sense that cancer is generally not related to schizophrenia, but in this case it is. He refused cancer treatment. After the moment mentioned in the finale, when the psychotic episodes had started again, it became more and more serious. At first, he took his pills, because he felt under pressure, but then he stopped taking them. His mind deteriorated more and more during all this time of irregular treatment, the episodes became more and more frequent. When we found out he had cancer, he was actually during such a phase, and he totally refused any medical intervention for a while. Then, strangely enough, he had no more episodes from a certain point on. But it was already too late. The cancer was very advanced, the body was already very weakened.”

About the documentary August 23, 1944/2019, which she made together with David Schwartz and Roland Ibold, she says that she wasn’t the one to choose the subject, it was actually proposed by David: “I was very interested in how such a controversial historical moment can be looked at from up close. We are told about it in many ways, but it seems that the perspective brought by the characters in the film is not very well circulated in the public space. I was more interested in the counter-history, the fact that we can bring a discourse that is not very present, although it seems firsthand: the perspective of Jew people on a moment that was decisive for their lives.”

Although the two documentaries released this year may seem different in subject and approach, Andra Tarara considers that they are actually related: “Through a small, personal story you can talk about a big, social subject, a real problem. I really like that. Personal is actually political. In a short story you see all the social mechanisms that interfere with your personal life.”

About making documentaries, she likes that she can discover things in the process, and that the process is more flexible, fluid. However, she adds that this can also happen in fiction and that she would like to make a fiction film at some point, but only if there’s more freedom in the way of working.

In connection to the possibility of resuming her career as a camera operator, meaning working on other people’s projects, not just her own, something she hasn’t done since college, she states that she doesn’t see herself working on films which she wouldn’t believe in or wouldn’t feel close to her at all: “I strongly feel that I could no longer work on projects I don’t believe in, whose perspective I don’t resonate with and whose ideas I don’t agree with. I don’t think I’m the best person for that. But I don’t judge that at others. A person who can adapt and translate any story into cinematic language, I find them admirable.”

When asked if she sees any change in Romanian cinema with the increasing number of films made by women and with more and more women becoming directors of photography, she admits that there are more female filmmakers now, but at the same time it seems that their work continues to be minor. “The films that we perceive as Art with capital A are still made by these colossal men. Films made by women are rather made with few resources and in collaboration, are rather independent or documentary films. And I feel that they are associated more with a certain type of story, with a more social, more engaged, more sensitive area, than with high art. And, although at first glance this idea perpetuates some stereotypes that are usually faulty, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing here. I mean, I think it could be a positive example – by fulfilling the cliché we’re actually going against the tide. New topics, new sensibilities are brought to the fore, the paradigm is slowly changing. The masculine subjectivity is no longer taken as absolute universalism and desirable for everyone, as a guarantor of success. There starts to be room for something else, too. Other perspectives, other ways of working”, says Andra Tarara.

“There are women in all departments now. It’s something to be glad of. It’s a very good thing. But we are waiting for it to happen systemically as well, and for an equal share of the resources. I don’t know if what I mentioned earlier, namely that the films made by women have certain characteristics, is a result of the way the resources are distributed or it’s simply the things that we search for”, says the director, who points out at the same time that such changes are needed in all sections of society, not just cinema.

She says that the question about her future projects scares her “very much”: “To a certain extent, I have the feeling that Us Against Us was the Film, and that I don’t know where I could go next. I feel like I’ve laid all my cards on the table. I feel very tired. I think I should take a break from making such personal films. I don’t even know what else I could talk about. It’s emotionally expensive. The last three years have taken everything out of me.”

Journalist and film critic. Curator for some film festivals in Romania. At "Films in Frame" publishes interviews with both young and established filmmakers.