I just returned from the NexT International (Short) Film Festival (April 6th-10, 2011) in Bucharest, Romania, a city largely unknown to tourists. Time to take out the history book as this nation is unique. The Runaway (4,000 Euro prize) and Silent River were 2 of my favorite winners as judged by the illustrious jury Marian Masone (Associate Director of Programming, Special Programs and Director of Festivals for the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Christian Guinot (organizer of the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival), Anne Garber (executive producer of the short film magazine KurzSchluss for ZDF/Arte), Marie Dubas (former short film producer for Paris-based company Les Films du requin and now founder of Paris-based production company Petit Film with Jean des Forêts, where she develops feature length films), Dana Bunescu, the most sought-after editor and sound designer in the Romanian film industry. Her credits include, among many others, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu by Andrei Ujică, First of All, Felicia by Răzvan Rădulescu and Melissa de Raaf, Love Sick by Tudor Giurgiu, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu by Cristi Puiu, The Great Communist Bank Robbery by Alexandru Solomon.
The festival takes place under the High Patronage of Her Royal Highness, Crown Princess Margarita of Romania, but Romania is NOT a kingdom; it’s a parliamentary democracy whose past still elicits sneers and grief. The activities of the NexT Cultural Society coincide with the Royal Family’s “30 year Vision for Romania”. The young population, the great new directors mixed meetings with important names from Romanian and international cinematography – to name a few:
Some films already have been awarded at international festivals, such as: Deeper than Yesterday (directed by Ariel Kleiman, Australia, 2009 winner of the Kodak Discovery Award and Petit Rail d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) or The Drawer and the Crow (directed by Frederick Tremblay, Canada, 2009) a touching animation, winner of the Best Canadian Film Award at the International Animation Festival from Ottawa. The program also includes one of the four Romanian films competing for the prize: – Adultery (directed by Peter Kerek, Romania, 2010), together with The Chronoscope (directed by Andrew Legge, Ireland, 2009) a pseudo-documentary about a fictitious invention that would have changed the history of the world, The Great Race (directed by Kote Camacho, Spain, 2010), Sunset from a rooftop (directed by Marinus Groothof, Holland, 2009) and Elena (directed by Yannick Muller, France, 2010). The film directors and sound designers of the short films in the competition were present in Bucharest to meet NexT audiences.
The first day of NexT ended with the American comedy, Cold Souls (directed by Sophie Barthes, 2009) part of the They were NexT Generation Too section, an extremely funny film according to New York Times reviews, was selected for Sundance in 2009, and has as leading actors the well-known Paul Giamatti and Emily Watson.
NexT seminars presented by JTI and recommended by Decât o Revistă took place at the Cărtureşti Loft, a great bookstore. Other sections are Competition, Focus Clermont Ferrand – with shorts from the world’s most important short film festival, Oscars Night – screening event with the Oscar winning shorts from the last 5 years, the Uncensored program, with daring shorts, and for interactive technology aficionados, the New Trends, New Technologies program. The festival’s most loved section, Cristi & Otto: Films by Cristian Nemescu and Andrei Toncu, is moving this year to student campuses, in Regie and ASE. The name NexT itself is named after Nemescu and Toncu. Cristi & Oto were two filmmakers – Critsi was a director and Andrei Toncu (Oto) was a sound designer and musician – who were killed in an accident.
The festival’s traditional sections, NexT Generation Too and Semaine de la Critique bring the public debut feature films of ex- NexT participant and shorts selected for the Cannes Film festival. The most popular section, Festival Friends is presented this year as well by HBO and will consist of 11 shorts, four of which are total premieres. About the friendship between HBO and NexT, Irina Catanchin, HBO Romania Marketing & PR Manager declares:
HBO Romania brings for the second year in a row the most loved section of the NexT Festival, Festival Friends. We are thrilled to offer out support to films made by young and talented film makers, appreciated in Romania as well as abroad. We are glad to be able to continue the tradition started one year ago and to work together with the organizers of the NexT International Film Festival. Romanian film productions have found a friend in need in HBO, be they Romanian short films or the feature films that have started to appear more and more often in our program. We welcome you wholeheartedly to the festival.
Last but not least, NexT Kids takes place for an entire day with films, events and games for all children who want to participate and their parents.