Press Release – Open letter to the CNC director, Anca Mitran

23 September, 2022

In an interview with Cultura la dubă, Ms. Anca Mitran, head of the Romanian Film Center (CNC), made a series of controversial assertions about Romanian films and their production. She stated that “all of our directors make festival art films. And so, we face an acute shortage of audience films,” that there is a need for “comedies and children’s films,” and that documentary film is not “meant for cinemas”. At the same time, when asked about the screenplay evaluation stage by the selection board, she cited the difference between a good script and a good film, suggesting that eliminating ranking and the total secrecy of the CNC in choosing those films suitable for production would be welcome. “There should be no hierarchy, that’s what I’m saying. For example, 5 films are funded in that session and the rest are not. From the 100 projects submitted to the contest, we choose 5 that are eligible to receive financing.”

The reactions were prompt. On September 20, five days after the release of the interview, filmmakers gathered in front of the CNC for their first protest, which continues every day, from 9.30 am. On September 23, the third consecutive day of the protest, there was an intervention by the Romanian Gendarmerie, which came in response to an undisclosed request, and the participants were asked for their identification.

Romanian filmmakers have released a petition demanding the resignation of Ms. Mitran from her position as Director of the CNC. The full text is available below:

„HEAD OF ROMANIAN FILM CENTER ATTACKS ROMANIAN CINEMA

On September 15 2022, the head of the Romanian film fund (hereafter referred to by its Romanian acronym, CNC), Ms Anca Mitran, gave an interview in which she positions the CNC in conflict with Romanian filmmakers, rather than as a supporter and ally of local film productions. 

Ms Mitran begins by attacking art films: “Lately all of our directors make festival art films. And so we acutely miss audience films that have no pretensions for festival awards.” She waxes poetic about the kind of films that she would like to see in cinemas — films about great Romanian historical figures, broad comedies and love stories — then nostalgically nods to several titles produced and promoted during the Ceaușescu era as examples of what Romanian filmmakers should offer audiences, stating that she has “a different conception of film.” 

A civil servant’s “conception of film” does not matter under Romanian law. Yet time and time again in this interview, Ms Mitran indicates that she sees herself — and the CNC, as an extension of her own agenda — as an arbiter of taste, sole originator of artistic production, and maker of her own rules: “We make the entire film production. We make both shorts and documentaries, which are not meant for cinemas,” she says. Neither the CNC nor its Director make films; the CNC as an institution partly finances productions. And it is certainly not up to the CNC nor its Director to decide that entire film forms should be excluded wholesale from theatrical release. Yet Ms Mitran insists that “the law is meant to finance productions for theatrical release. Documentary film is not meant for cinemas.” This is just one of the misrepresentations of the Romanian cinema law that Ms Mitran makes in the interview.

Not even the simplistic box office yardstick against which Ms Mitran chose to measure all Romanian productions holds up upon closer examinations. “In the last 10 years we made over 100 documentaries. How many have you heard of that performed?,” she says. Well, according to the CNC itself, in 2020 alone, 9 of the top 20 Romanian films with theatrical distribution were documentaries. The sole Romanian film that got nominated for an Oscar (not in one, but in two categories) is a documentary — Collective. Yet when confronted with these facts, Ms Mitran dismisses them, suggesting once more that her conception of “performance” has less to do with measurable outcomes than with content. 

Several times during the interview, Ms Mitran comes close to saying that Romanian artists are supposed to follow directions from the head of the CNC. Indeed, the entire interview reveals a feudal mentality in which the CNC is not seen as a public service whose mandate is to support Romanian filmmaking, but rather as an art benefactor disappointed with her commissions.

Ms Mitran’s statements disqualify her from holding the position of Director of the CNC. Her mandate has been extended although she reached retirement age — though it is not clear why the Ministry of Culture has decided to do so, given that under Ms Mitran the CNC: failed to revamp Romania’s theatrical distribution system and to reopen the cinemas it seems so eager to fill; vanished for a year and a half during the pandemic, leaving the Romanian industry with no support in the midst of a crisis; and failed to adapt and modernize beyond punch-hole files until 2022. The latest interview only further clarifies that the Director of the CNC does not see  herself or the institution she leads as a supporter and ally of the Romanian film industry, but rather as an oppositional, censorious force. 

We demand that Ms Mitran resigns from her position as Director of the CNC, which has become untenable under these circumstances. We demand that the CNC be led by a qualified appointee who is open to collaborating with those who work in the film industry and whose vision of Romanian cinema is in keeping with the evolving realities of the 21st century. 

Signed, 

Dana Bunescu, film editor and sound designer

Ioana Țurcan, filmmaker and cultural producer

Gabriela Forfotă, filmmaker

Eliza Zdru, filmmaker

Mona Nicoară, filmmaker

Andreea Lăcătuș,  filmmaker

Andra Tarara, filmmaker

Paula Oneț, filmmaker

Alexandru Solomon, filmmaker

Laura Căpățână, documentary filmmaker

Nora Agapi, filmmaker

Ruxandra Gubernat, filmmaker and researcher

Roxana Andrei, filmmaker 

Andrei Dăscălescu, filmmaker

Carmen Tofeni, DoP and filmmaker

Dragoș Hanciu, filmmaker and photographer

Andrei Tănăsescu, festival programmer

Cristina Haneș, filmmaker

Daniel Barnuti, filmmaker

Anelise Sălan, filmmaker and researcher

Mihai Dragolea, filmmaker

Elena Martin, producer

Cătălin Cristuțiu, film editor

Andra MacMasters, film producer

Alexandru Paul, photographer, videographer

Bogdan Mureșanu, screenwriter and filmmaker

Raluca Durbacă, documentary filmmaker

Alexandra Gulea, filmmaker, visual artist

Dorin Moldoveanu, filmmaker

Irina Trocan, film critic

Melinda Blos-Jáni, film scholar

Flavia Dima, film critic and curator

Călin Boto, film critic and curator

Andra Chiriac Hera, film director

Radu Jude, fiction documentary filmmaker

Alexandru Maftei, film director

Tudorița Soldănescu, cultural manager

Raluca Hașu

Tudor Cristian Jurgiu, filmmaker

Radu Muntean, filmmaker

Razvan Radulescu, screenwriter, filmmaker

Carla Fotea, producer

Tudor Platon, director of photography

Cristina Elena Iliescu, experimental documentary filmmaker

Alexander Nanau, filmmaker

Monica Felea, film distributor

Ștefan Bradea, film distributor

Alexandru Gherman, filmmaker

Maria Salomia, film editor

Vlad Petri, filmmaker

Anca Păunescu, festival programmer

Ruxandra Ghițescu, screenwriter, filmmaker

Alex Pintică, film editor

Paul Dogioiu, cultural manager

Iosif Prodan, film critic & journalist

Florin Iepan, curator 

Andreea Dumitriu, filmmaker

Anton Groves, filmmaker

Călin Peter Netzer, filmmaker

Ana Lungu, filmmaker

Mihai Mincan, filmmaker

Alexandru Radu, film editor

Stere Gulea, filmmaker

Dumitru Budrală, filmmaker

Simona Constantin, filmmaker & curator

Raluca R Gorgos filmmaker

Andrei Butica, director of photography

Radu Gorgos, director of photography

Andrei Ujică, filmmaker

Elena Vladareanu, writer

Oana Ghera, film curator

Cătălin Neagoe, UPM

Sophie Reiter, film editor

Ioana Bogdana, producer and scriptwriter

Eva Todică, scriptwriter, director and producer

Mihai Grecea, filmmaker

Marco Meneghin, researcher and film curator

Ruta Kiaupaite, documentary filmmaker

Marion Molinari, documentary filmmaker 

Stefan Mihalachi, photography and documentary filmmaker

Matteo Giampetruzzi, filmmaker and festival programmer”

 

To sign the document, you can find the English version here.



Photographer and editor, she co-founded Dissolved Magazine. For Films in Frame she brings the news from the film world, in the Monday News column. She likes stories, Monty Python and going to the seaside.