#GOPO: an interview with the Young Hope nominees

17 June, 2021

The GOPO Awards are the biggest event in Romanian film industry and we are getting closer to this year’s edition, which will take place on the 29th of June at an outdoor location in Bucharest.

Since 2007, the jury committee is nominating five emerging voices in the YOUNG HOPE (n. Tânără Speranță) section – a category less promoted by the media, but with strong names every year, some of which have already made it in the industry, becoming the talk of the town in recent years.

Because we strongly believe in the next generation and this year’s nominees are hot and fresh, we decided to get them all together for an interview. Cătălin Rugină, Patricia Chelaru, Alma Buhagiar and Teona Galgoțiu are all born in the 90’s, the only nominee even younger than them is Gabor Bondi – a rroma actor, born in 2004, who seems to have big ambitions for his career.

We asked them 4 questions and decided to have a theme for our photoshoot – the 90’s, a period we all lived and enjoyed, for some it was just a happy childhood and for others those were the first years or freedom after the fall of Ceausescu’s regime. Either way you put it, it was a time when everything we know now has evolved – tech & IT, the music scene, the cinema, the fashion industry, or the game industry and the list can go on and on. A period in time which we felt it should be reproduced in the utmost veracious way – so we shot everything happening at the photo shooting on VHS cameras and we asked Cătălin to film it and Teona & Alma to direct it. Why? There’s only one way to find out.


  1. How would you describe the generation you’re part of?
  2. Tell me the story behind the film you’ve been nominated for
  3. What do you think are the industry’s trumps and what would you like to change?
  4. How do you think the local film industry will look like in a post-pandemic world?

Alma Buhagiar – born in 1998 in Bucharest / nominated as a film director

Foto: Sabina Costinel | Styling: Ruxandra Marin | Props: Flavia Barabas

1. We’re quite different than how the world perceives us. Even though our searchings vary, we are a homogenous generation and we communicate with each other. I believe we have a strong desire of exploring new forms and with social media, which makes it easier for us to know what we are all doing, the information we gather is more fluent and it helps us learn from one another. And it also unites us.

2. My short film follows an eight year old boy, who lives with his father in a country town. His parents are divorced. The film relates the night before his mother’s arrival, who comes to take the kid on vacation. It’s a story about how life happens sometimes without our consent, determined by actions that are beyond our capacity of understanding, or even controlling.

3. I believe not having gigantic investors for our films gives us the opportunity to be creative, as we do not have to meet any requirements given by companies or people outside our production team. Another thing that I find rewarding is that we have many more women working in different fields of our industry. However, I would like the financial state aid to be set-up in an organised way and to give opportunities to young filmmakers like us.

4. I have a good feeling about cinema in a post-pandemic world and it seems like it’s already happening – a lot of my colleagues have started working on their films. I think this long break has stimulated creativity and it gave us the push we needed to approach our ideas with dynamism and earnest.

Cătălin Rugină – born in 1994 in Botoșani / nominated as a director of photography

Foto: Sabina Costinel | Styling: Ruxandra Marin | Props: Flavia Barabas

1. I have been working mainly with people from our generation and I often sensed a tendency of reproducing the 90’s, a time when we were born but when we were only kids and didn’t really know what was happening. Overall, I think it’s a generation that wants to make a change and has the guts to try.

2. I have been nominated for the photography of two short films: The Deer Hunting (n. Vânătoarea de cerbi) which I have filmed in my junior MA year (directed by Andrei Olănescu) and for The Debt (n. Datoria) – shot in my second BA year which went through a long process of editing (d. by Andrei Redniciuc, with whom I have worked on another two projects since then). The films explore very different subjects, which determined me to try two distinct visual directions, both sustaining the concept behind the stories.

3. What I like about Romanian cinema is that it has always depicted the reality of our society which was always bidder. However, I think there’s time for some change, I would like for us to be more daring – it annoys me that we still follow the same styles and rules of the New Wave. We should have the courage to explore new ways of making films and come up with something fresh.

4. I’m pessimistic about the future of the cinema – we haven’t been supported by anyone in this time and it’s hard to make a name for yourself in the industry, when you’re young. I have noticed a lot of the people from the technical departments on set have drifted to other fields of work and I’m afraid we will miss their experience.

Patricia Chelaru – born in 1992 in Bucharest / nominated as an editor

Foto: Sabina Costinel | Styling: Ruxandra Marin | Props: Flavia Barabas

1. We are a united and enthusiastic generation, with a desire to explore.

2. I have been nominated for the editing of Ivana’s Mladenovic latest feature film (n. Ivana the Terrible) – I have worked with her before, I was an assistant to the editor of Soldiers.Story from Ferentari and that’s how I got this opportunity and I got to know Ivana and her family better, even though I didn’t visit her native town. The whole experience was very personal and it gave me the chance to get to know her universe. The whole editing process was really creative but somehow toilsome – I worked a lot, it was my first feature film and on top of that, Ivana had to translate everything to me, from Serbian to Romanian (n. half of the film is in Serbian). What I enjoyed the most was throwing to the winds the rules of editing.

3. I like that it is very close to ciné-vérité and the public’s emotions. And I believe Romanian Cinema helps us (the younger generation) to understand the past better. However, I would like to reach the next level and start making films with a more fresh perspective – themed-wise and style-wise. And more movies made by women, please!

4. I can’t imagine how the film industry will look after everything is over, I guess there will be quite a few movies about the pandemic and all the protocols will be respected, at least for a while.

Teona Galgoțiu – born in 1998 in Bucharest / nominated as a director

Foto: Sabina Costinel | Styling: Ruxandra Marin | Props: Flavia Barabas

1. With a reduced attention span. We are a pretty confused and fast-tracked generation, eager to get too much information at once. It seems we’re over-achievers without really knowing what we want.

2. I was nominated for two films – the first one is my BA film, about a girl that is part of an experiment with a device which tries to reclaim memories. The girl is very attached to a memory from when she was young and as she goes through this experiment, she realises has fictionalised it quite a lot as time passed by. The second one is a film I made for FFE (n. The European Film Festival) while in isolation – a docu fiction about an E.T which has to make a test report about planet Earth right before the pandemic starts.

3. I appreciated that a lot of directors are interested in the political dimension of cinema; I think that even though the vast audience is sick of Romanian realistic cinema, it is still valuable as a cinematic approach. However, I would like us to be more open to experimentation. We know the Romanian realism recipe works very well in film festival, so we tend to follow the same path, which doesn’t allows us to be playful and look for new cinematic forms.

4. I’m afraid as I have no idea how cinema will look and be like after the pandemic. I hope this openness to experimentation will have a chance at happening, given the fact we will probably have even less money for moviemaking.

Gabor Bondi – born in 2004 in Brașov / nominated as an actor

Foto: Sabina Costinel | Styling: Ruxandra Marin | Props: Flavia Barabas

*for Gabor we had a different set of questions as he is part of a younger generation

What do you love most about being an actor?

There is a lot to say but I believe my favourite thing is getting to know your character – where he comes from, what does he like, what are his moves – to discover him. And when I get home, at the end of a shooting day, still be him, until the whole project is over.

What has impressed you the most on the set of Ana Pasti’s short film –  In between?

The team – how we worked together and how our relationships evolved from one day to another.

Can you share your biggest dreams with us?

First of all, a family – I think it’s the most precious thing in the world. And I would like to become an actor and study acting at university but you see, in our community there’s a different mentality – I’m a gipsy and if you finish 8 school classes (n. grades) then you have to go and work your ass off.

The whole list of nominations can be found here. The Gala will be transmitted live on PRO TV Plus starting with 7:30pm on the 29th of June.

Film producer and founder of ADFR, she dreamed since she was little of having a magazine one day. Alongside her job as editor-in-chief, she writes the interview of the month. She loves animals, jazz music and films festivals.