31 features to lock horns in Transilvania’s 3 main competitions

Eight of the 12 titles in the Official Competition for first and second films and nine of the ten documentaries in the What’s Up, Doc? Competition of the 22nd Transilvania International Film Festival (9-18 June) are European productions or co-productions. The jury that is tasked with deciding on the recipients of the prizes for both fiction features and documentaries consists of Mexican director Michel Franco, Serbian actor Darko Perić, British actor-director Harry Macqueen, Romanian actress Judith State and Trieste Film Festival director Nicoletta Romeo, cineuropa.org.

Moldova is entering the Transilvania IFF competition for the first time with the clever farce Carbon [+] by Ion Borș, about the turbulent years of the Transnistria conflict. Spain is represented by two titles: Alberto Gastesi’s jazzy love story Stillness in the Storm [+], and Alejandro Rojas and Juan Sebastián Vasquez’s claustrophobic thriller Upon Entry [+]. Besides participating in this year’s Nordic Focus, Sweden and Denmark are in competition with the family portraits Family Time [+] by Tia Kuovo and The Cake Dynasty [+] by Christian Lollike. The French-Argentinian co-production The Barbarians by Andrew Sala is a compact thriller on a father-son relationship, while the Serbian title The Uncle [+] by David Kapac and Andrija Mardesic ventures deeper into the genre, to the extent that it makes the audience truly uncomfortable. Finally, Czech director Adam Sedlák returns to TIFF with his second outing, BANGER. [+], shot entirely on an iPhone.

The European titles in the What’s Up, Doc? Competition include two Romanian co-productions: The Land You Belong by Elena Rebeca Carini, who was adopted from Romania by an Italian couple in the 1990s; and the provocative hybrid film Anhell69 [+] by Theo Montoya. Slovak filmmaker Denis Dobrovoda returns to the festival with The Cathedral [+], telling the story of a genius who’s labelled as a madman by his community, while former dancer Giovanni Bucchieri will bring along the autobiographical archival documentary 100 Seasons [+]. Fresh perspectives on masculinity and femininity can be found in the Estonian movie Smoke Sauna Sisterhood [+] by Anna Hints and France’s Dogwatch [+] by Gregoris Rentis. Other titles from France are Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse and Quentin L’Helgouac’h’s Knit’s Island [+], and Raphaël Mathié’s The Outliers, both of which see elements of fiction playing a special role. Perhaps the most highly anticipated title in the programme is the Swiss film Like an Island [+] by Tizian Büchi, which won the Grand Prix at Visions du Réel in 2022.

The jury for the Romanian Days sidebar – consisting of vice-president of the French Union of Film Critics Charles Tesson, coordinator of the D’A Film Lab Barcelona Pedro Andrade, and Slovak producer and film promoter Katarina Tomkova – will hand out the Awards for Best Feature Film, Best Debut and Best Short Film. The selection includes Paul Negoescu’s black comedy Men of Deeds [+]; Mihai Mincan’s fiction debut, To the North [+], which had its world premiere at Venice; the film noir Boss by Bogdan Mirică, who won the Transilvania Trophy in 2015 with his previous work, Dogs [+]; and Andrei Tănase’s debut, Day of the Tiger [+], which started its international journey at IFFR.

After winning the FIPRESCI Award in the Focus section of the Berlinale, Vlad Petri’s hybrid film Between Revolutions [+], which compares and contrasts revolutions in Romania and Iran, will be presented locally. Dana Bunescu returns to directing side by side with anthropologist Cătălina Tesar, revealing matrimonial traditions in Roma communities in The Chalice. Of Sons and Daughters [+], while journalists Adina Popescu and Iulian Ghervase focus their third documentary, Eagles from Țaga [+], on the story of a football coach who trains a team on a permanent losing streak. The two world premieres in the programme are those of My Muslim Husband, a story about love and prejudice in contemporary Romania by couple Daniel and Alexandra Bărnuți; and Blue Planet by Daniel Sărăcuț, a bittersweet chronicle of the rock band Dio Family.