Several conversations about a very tall girl: interview with Florentina & Silvana
Silvana Mihai and Florentina Nastase are the lead actresses of Bogdan Theodor Olteanu’s debut in feature film – Several conversations about a very tall girl, which also happens to be the first LGBTQ themed Romanian film.
Two stage actresses that knew each other only by ear, Florentina and Silvana were first introduced by Bogdan. They had instantly connect and remain good friends after the shooting. Bogdan isn’t the only one who is making his debut in feature film: for Silvana, or “Silvi”, as Florentina likes to call her, this is her first feature film as an actress, and says she has “never felt the pressure of a debut” . More about the two actresses, their characters and what means for them playing in the first Romanian LGBTQ feature film, in the interview below.
What does it mean for you being an actress?
Silvana: For me it keeps changing, as I keep evolving. When I was in highschool, it was an alternative for math, I was constantly trying to get rid of it.
Florentina: Still trying to run away from math? (laughs)
Silvana: Of course not, but I cannot tell what it means for me in this very instant, as I am at the age when things keep changing for me.
Florentina: For me is the career I chose and what I love doing. And the only job that constantly offers me knowledge.
You’re both stage actresses, the theatre is your main playground. How much does the audience’s reaction matters, when you’re playing on a stage?
Florentina: A lot. At first, I was quite scared and had no idea the public really exists. I had no experience, for me the audience was getting lost somewhere in the darkness of the space. I feel its reaction for a while now, even in the silence, whether it’s a positive or a negative kind of silence. There’s a constant energy coming from them that helps you build up the tension as you go.
Silvana: Quite important for me too. I have a show now at “Teatrul Mic”, where I have to call someone from the audience for the final scene. Even though every scene is directed and I know my role precisely, every time this last scene happens, that person that comes up and it’s always someone else, changes everything, makes it unpredictable.
How much does this change, when you’re trading the stage for a film set, where there’s no audience to give you a feedback in real-time?
Silvana: When it comes to Bogdan’s film, I have never thought about the public’s reaction. A lot of people asked me haven’t I thought this is a film with lesbians; I haven’t, neither did Florentina. For us this is just another love story. And to answer your question, when you make a film, the partner and director you have are the most important.
Florentina: The public does not dictate the way you act, in film nor on stage. Wherever you act, there are always rehearsals with the director, where you discuss the way you should take on that character. The big differences appear when you talk about the acting techniques.
Silvana, this is your first feature film. Has anything changed for you?
I have never thought of this film as my debut in feature film. Everything started so simple and normal, I used to have regular meetings with Bogdan and Florentina, talking and having fun. There was never the pressure of making something extraordinary important. I became very good friends with Florentina and we built everything together, which was so important to me.
Florentina, I know you applied for university both in Bucharest and Cluj. You were not accepted in Bucharest, however, only in Cluj. I believe this has happened more than ten years ago. Have you ever been worried you won’t succeed?
Depends what “success” means to you. I have never put it that way. When I decided to stay in Cluj, I took the decision to follow this path. From that moment onwards, I knew I wanted to be an actress and I knew I will be, whatever may happen.
What do actors in Romania do not have and need?
Florentina: The guild we keep talking about but doesn’t happen, and of course, a general act of will from all actors. And maybe a library, besides the one at the university, where we could find all the texts and plays we are looking for, well organized.
Silvana: Oh yeah! Totally agree with Florentina!
Bogdan has made a film about the love of two lesbians, with two straight women. Was it hard to play your given roles?
Silvana: I have never seen it as a “film with lesbians”. By the time we got to work together, I only saw Florentina playing on stage.
Florentina: And I knew Silvana from Facebook, long before the auditions for Bogdan’s film.
Silvana: Bogdan brought us together, introduced us and from that moment onwards we had about four months of rehearsals, plenty of time to get to know each other. Everything came together naturally.
What has attracted you to the script?
Florentina: The love story
Silvana: It talks about fear and the incapacity to express yourself as you are. And I was also attracted by its theme.
Your characters are complete opposite. Silvana is the shy girl, a bit embarrassed by her sexual orientation, that only a few know about, while Florentina is the badass chick, confident and self-possessed, that knows what she wants from Silvana and is very patient with her. How much do you see of yourself in your character?
Florentina: I guess there’s something from my character in me and vice-versa. I remember Bogdan chose me for this role after a talk with a mutual friend who told him I’m quite bitchy in real life. In theatre, most of my roles were sheer. I could tell you what I don’t have and my character does: confidence and straightforwardness. I loved that about her.
Silvana: I have let myself drift through this insecurity that my character shows. The LGBTQ community lives with a constant fear, while us, the straight ones, don’t. We only have periods of time of insecurities. I tried to imagine what would it be like to live with this fear everyday.
Could you say that one of this movie’s purposes is supporting and encouraging the LGBTQ community, especially the young generation?
Florentina: Like Silvana said earlier, it was never the way we saw it. For me, it was only a love story in which I had the chance to be cast. I admit that was a bit too naïve of me, as I have realized later on, during a “girls only” screening, this fear Silvana mentioned. I have and always had gay and bi-sexual friends and never noticed their problems or insecurities. It would be such a joy if this film could encourage the LGBTQ community, especially the women to express themselves and come forward. However, I believe a real progress in our society will be noticed once the LGBTQ themed movies won’t be seen as something unprecedented, but as artistic films like any others.
How did you feel when you saw the film in cinema for the first time?
Silvana: First time for me was at TIFF. I hate seeing and hearing myself. I remember I had flashbacks during the screening and I was feeling like a volcano full of emotions, ready to explode. There was a Q&A at the end and I have no idea what I did, I was still in shock after seeing it two years later, completely detached from my character.
Florentina: For me, these two years that passed since our shoot made me so detached from it all that I could totally enjoy it (laughs). The first time I saw it was at the “girls only” screening I mentioned and I noticed how well the script is written, how well it surprises the key moments of a relationship. I loved watching it with an audience, I was enjoying the film while observing people’s reactions.