Astra Film Festival: resume and impressions

20 October 2014

In the town of Sibiu came to an end Astra Film Festival (Romania). Ukrainian films received there two awards:  ‘Maidan’ directed by Sergei Loznitsa won grand prize of the festival and the film ‘Mohamed Tomescu’ directed by Olesya Bortnyak was highly estimated for the best image for a Student Documentary (Award for the Best Image for a Student Documentary). On arrival Docudays UA program coordinator Darya Bassel shared her impressions on her work as a jury in Astra Film Festival.


The image of the festival this year was created by a famous Romanian artist and public activist Dan Perjovschi. He draw a great number of sketches representing main themes of the festival: ecology, World War II, utopia, sex, old age, authorship in cinema, etc.  The main festival visual depicts a magical circle which stands for the fairy circuit of cinema.

Description of this picture can be started from any element depending on what one prefers. I’ll start with a man bending his head over a piece of paper and a pen.  A red line connects the man’s heart with his head and in the, and in the linking moment a new man appears – a man with a camera. The red line leads us further through the camera to a projector and from there to a screen. From the screen something which was left beyond the picture settles in the head of a cinema-goer. From the head it moves to his heart. In such a way the heart of the cinema-goer gets linked with the heart of the men bending his head over the piece of paper…


The first screening which I happened to watch at the festival is ‘Judgment in Hungary’ directed by Eszter Hajdu.  The film follows the trial which lasted for several years against a far-right group of extremists who attacked a gypsy commune in Hungary. There are many questions from the audience during the discussion after the screening. What is the current situation? Has the sentence been enforced? Have there been any other attacks? Suddenly I realize that I am present at a geography lesson, a history lesson or God knows what. The director onstage is like a teacher at the blackboard or maybe a miraculous wanderer who has visited unknown countries. This wanderer has been gone for a long time and now he is back in front of us disclosing new countries, new people and their unusual morals. During the work of jury my waft suddenly received a wording from my colleagues’ lips. Cristi Puiu and Nicolas Feodoroff has been arguing endlessly and the purpose of the argue is not truth and compromise but talk and play. The discussion smoothly moves from competition films to general topics on cinema, life, art, role of an artist, a director… “An artist is not the main character. He is a witness. He is here to say: Listen, I have been there and this is what I have seen.”


Here at the festival I watched again several films which I saw earlier. In most cases the films turns out to be something different from what it seemed to be before.  I wonder and admire what subtle and dependent matter cinema is. Unlikely as it may seem how much a film can change after it is shot, sound is recorded, printed on the filmstrip and wrapped in dcp. But each time the film changes in an intangible and unpredictable way depending on place, time, mood, physical well-being of a viewer… billion of factors. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. As with everything else.  The film eventually exists only in the eyes of a viewer. Each time in a unique, inimitable way. In the way of a final and starting point of a magical circuit.



The Opening Ceremony. On the stage – founding director Dumitru Budrala and  festival producer Adina Vărgatu.


Text and photo: Darya Bassel

25 – 
April 2022