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September 4, 2008 3:21 AM
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TORONTO '08 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW | "Hooked" Director Adrian Sitaru

A scene from Adrian Sitaru's "Hooked." Image courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival.

EDITORS NOTE: For the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as a showcase for new and emerging filmmakers from contemporary international cinema.

Adrian Sitaru's "Hooked" is having its North American Premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival. The Romania-France co-production is described by TIFF: "A Sunday picnic seemed like the best way for Mihai and Sweetie to spend some quality time together and take their relationship to a new level. But a series of odd and unexpected events quickly turn this idyllic weekend getaway into the strangest day of their lives." indieWIRE talked to Sitaru about the film and its screening in Toronto.

What initially attracted you to filmmaking and did that interest evolve while making your film?

Although at first I attended university for Computer Science, since I was 20 years old I have been interested in music and believed this would be my future - I have even sang in some bands. At Timisoara, while studying Computer Sciences, I discovered "cinemateca" (cinemateque) and the first films that I watched, those of Tarkovsky, made a very strong impression on me: I understood what cinema is, a mixture of all the other arts, I understood what a director does and it became clear to me that it was what I wanted to do. In the same time, music began to seem limited to me and potentially boring at some point, while as a director you could not become bored: you write, you work with the actors, with the DOP, scenography, you shoot, cut, edit, or make music ... a lot. After Tarkovsky, were Fellini and Bergman. In time I discovered Lars von Trier, who "taught" me how simple and cheap you can make a film.

I made my first shorts with my camera, my parents or friends as actors, I edited myself, so, after I finished the school I told myself that if it's possible to make an independent short its just a matter of time to make a long feature too. Of course it's harder, but when you believe in your story, you have passion and patience you will find the solutions for everything. I hoped but I never thought that the film will really have a real future, I just shot it and liked it. Like any parents love their child, I wish the best for the film, to show it to the people, festivals etc., I hope to be a good film that people will like, not a genial blockbuster...

Please discuss how the idea for your film came about...

I think I have always been interested in human behavior and relationships, for me humans, unlike other species we live together with, have an absurd and self destructive behavior. I try to explain to myself why I behave the way I do and what is the evolutionary meaning for our species from this point of view. It seems to me that we are the only species that can destroy her self, and, plus, with pleasure. Everything starts of course from simple relationships between humans, couples or not.

Please elaborate on your approach to making the film, including your influences as well as your overall goals for the project.

For me cinema is a like drug. I'm not addicted to see films, but I'm addicted to see the world, what's happening around like a film and it's a great incomparable pleasure when I'm shooting. But also when I'm going to see a film actually I'm going in other worlds, stories, times. That happens with everybody and probablly that's why so many people are going in cinema or love to see films on DVD or TV, it's a trip outside of reality.

I only think that a good film must have in every moment one of the following elements or combinations, if possible: humor, tension, poetry of image. If there is none of the above, those minutes of film are a waste of time, regarding the audience. I like few films from the beginning to the end, I'm not a cinema addict, I get bored easily, so I try in my films not to get bored, so that I don't make others bored. But I wouldn't like to be misunderstood, I don't mean by what I've just said that a good film must have a lot of twists, people die, and image should be "shockingly" beautiful. On the contrary, real tension, mystery, quality humor, beautiful but not excessively beautiful (calofilia) are things that are extremely difficult to obtain. This is the reason for which I find few films that are really good.

The influences at the beginning as I told was Tarkovsky, Bergman and Fellini. Certainly for me Lars von Trier and dogma changed immensely the audience's perception, all over the world, as long as it began to appear successful American TV series shot by hand held camera and zooms, now I remember "NYPD Blue," "Lost," and "The Office." Now I like very much Mike Leigh, Aky Kaurismaki not to forget Chaplin...

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

One of the biggest challenge was to make a long feature with a very small budget. Of course with the unconditional support from the main actors, friends and 2 companies that helped me with camera, some lights and sound. I finally found support with a producer in France and was able to do all post-production there including transfer to 35mm because I shot it in miniDV.

What is your next project?

My next project is named "For Love with Best Intentions". It is a film about ignorance, about the paranoia that can be developed by people because of an unsafe health system, and about how bad decisions, based on distrust, can be taken. The project won a CInefondation Cannes Residence, Binger Filmlab and was presented in Cinemart Rotterdam. The main producer will be by the same French producers that help me a lot with my first film, Movie Partners in Motion Film.

The story is inspired by a recent personal experience with my mother that could have ended tragically.

What are your goals for the Toronto International Film Festival?

I hope that the film will have a good reception, this kind of film needs press attention, needs visibility in great festivals, so I hope to get a very good feedback, only in this way the film could be seen by many people and this is the reason for any director/author when he/she really wants to tell/show something to the world. Of course, I would like to find a distributor for North America so my film can be seen!

Read all of indieWIRE's Toronto International Film Festival coverage in our special Toronto '08 section.]

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