19 Jun 2024

Mihai Chirilov talks about Romanian films

Mihai Chirilov discusses the current challenges of Romanian cinema and proposes solutions at the TIFF festival.

"The problem always starts at the beginning, as it dictates how the players adapt. There are numerous funds supporting artists at the beginning of their careers, and the system is designed to support the artist from all directions. You have to deliver a film that satisfies all parties involved in this food chain. Often, you encounter situations where three experts, relying on their automatisms and expertise, ask you to make changes, and as an artist, you might be reluctant.

However, this is the game, and you end up making adjustments. You don't get funding just for being charming; you have to go in certain directions and promote certain values. We need to find a formula where films reflect societal issues, such as the Palestinian issue, sexual minorities, immigration, etc. In 2024, it's frustrating for artists to see that art doesn't have the desired effectiveness in these areas, and the question is how much art can influence. The goal is for art to push the audience out of their comfort zone and awaken them; this is my area of interest.

There are two islands in contemporary cinema. We are not always brilliant, and this is not a constant. This is a personal observation, although I could be wrong. Talking to colleagues from other festivals, we want to bring quality European films to the forefront, but we face mediocrity, even though there are resources and it's not difficult to find an attractive story. In the last 2-3 years, South America and India have been producing innovative and quality films, while Romania and France seem to fall into mediocrity.

However, there is hope that things will change. At the same time, in every country, there are filmmakers who understand that state funds can be delayed by 4-5 years, so they choose to produce independent films. Indie films are not supported by institutions or the state, which offers the greatest freedom without constraints or rigid guidelines. There, you can ask friends for help, rent equipment at affordable prices, and connect with sponsors, because sponsors are interested in their product being well-represented on screen, not whether your character is misogynistic.

If someone were to say that I am hard to impress because I watch too many films, I might agree to some extent, but I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Moreover, the person making this statement might want to do exactly what I do. The experience of watching films is not just about watching three films at the festival, but also about delving deeply into each one and understanding their impact. While others might say that I've seen everything and become more demanding with age, I still hope to be surprised by films as I was at the age of 30.

I watched commercial films until I realized that good films on Netflix, for example, are so buried in algorithms that finding them is too much work. Therefore, now I try to speak always from an informed perspective, and currently, I no longer watch such films."