Every year, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival collects a great selection of short films, made by film students and graduates from various countries of Europe. With their unique style, vision and brave mix of genres, the 10 newcomer directors of the Future Frames are showing a promising future for the European cinema. We made a short interview with all directors who got selected, meet Roxana Stroe, director of the short Noapta Ȋn Tokoriki (A Night in Tokoriki).
Director’s bio: Roxana has studied Film Directing at the National University of Theatre and Cinema „I.L. Caragiale” in Bucharest. Her 2013 short PERENNIAL PLANTS won the Critics Award at the International Student Film Festival CineMaiubit in Bucharest, while BLACK FRIDAY was named Best Romanian Short at last year’s Transilvania International Film Festival. Her latest short A NIGHT IN TOKORIKI received a Special Prize from the Generation 14plus jury at the 2016 Berlinale.
A Night in Tokoriki: In an improvised night club called “Tokoriki” the whole village celebrates Geanina’s 18th birthday. Her boyfriend and Alin will give her a most surprising gift, one that nobody will ever forget.
What was your first thought when you realised you got into the Future Frames?
I was really happy and proud to find out about the selection. The only sad part is that the program lasts for only 2 days and I think it’s the kind of program that one would wish to last as long as the festival is scheduled.
How do you prepare for the festival? What do you expect from it?
The preparation is more about watching the other films that were selected in the Future
Frames program and, maybe, trying to imagine what the interview questions would be like; it’s a good practice.
As for the expectations, I believe the only one I’m carrying is orientated towards the idea of meeting new possible future collaborators, producers interested in investing in your projects and exchanging some opinions with the other participants.
How is the film education in your school? Do you get funds for your short films there?
The budget for each year of MA, so basically for each short (a short/year), is about 1800 Euros and you can spend the money on set decorations, costumes, transportation, even paying for the extras, if needed.
You only get funds if you’re studying the MA, the bachelor degree only provides you with the technical equipment which, in some cases, might be enough.
I really liked your short film, the way you mixed irony with humour and drama at the same time. How did you came up with the story?
At first, it started from a real story of a homeless guy, Arthur, and his dream of making his own disco but this was kind of a different story and the only common element kept from it is the environment.
Then it focused more and more on the first love experience, in this case forbidden, with all the hazy, confused and repressed characteristics at an age when you are not aware of the depth of your own feelings.
It’s not my first collaboration with Ana-Maria Gheorghe – screenwriter – we’ve also worked together on my previous short called Black Friday.
The music is one of the most important elements of your film. How did you choose the songs, and how was the making of the theme song of Alin?
I grew up on those songs, I used to have specific dance moves just like the ones I saw in the music videos and I know the lyrics by heart so it wasn’t that hard to make a selection. The funny thing is that we didn’t make any theme song, even the one of Alin is a famous song from the 2000s belonging to a Romanian band called Sweet Kiss.
The set design and the clothes seem very authentic. What was your visual concept? Is Tokoriki based on a real club in Romania?
No, Tokoriki is not based on a real club, the interiors were shot entirely in an abandoned building in Bucharest, redecorated from zero, but the whole visual concept that Adina Lupu – production designer, Laurentiu Raducanu – cinematographer and me decided to adopt was inspired by different old rural Romanian or Russian discos; the kitsch elements played an important part. I was interested in that specific period – the early 2000s – the film talks about a generation that grew up on that kind of music, wearing that kind of clothes and that kind of hairstyles.
How was the shooting? What was the most difficult part, and what is your favourite memory of it?
We didn’t have too many problems, it was a bit difficult considering we only had 50 minutes of 35mm film for the entire shooting and the film itself has about 18 minutes so it was impossible to get more than 2 or 3 takes/shot.
I have some really beautiful memories, it’s hard to choose a favourite one. I remember we were laughing a lot when we were shooting the dancing scene because we had to turn off the music, we only used it for the rehearsals and you can imagine seeing all of them dancing in complete silence.
Did you work with professional or amateur actors? Which one do you prefer?
Actually almost all of them were acting students: Cristian Priboi – who portrays Alin – studied acting for two years only, now he has a different job but he’s still very passionate about the idea of acting; Cristian Bota who portrays Bebe and Iulia Ciochina – Geanina – both graduated the acting school and were already casted in feature films and a lot of shorts. Even the gang that comes with Alin – they are all acting school graduates: Andrei Ciopec, Costi Apostol, Adrian Loghin, Tudor Morar. Geanina’s father – Sorin Cocis – and the DJ – Cristian Toma – are also professional actors. I’m sorry if I mentioned too many names, but they deserve this credit for all the good work. So far I’ve worked more with professionals than with amateurs, but I wouldn’t say no to the idea of casting amateurs in my future projects.
What is your next film plan? Are you preparing for a short or a feature film in the future?
I’m preparing for a short and a feature, of course the feature will take a while to be ready and I’m talking about years, so the short will be the next project. When you’re a filmmaker, the feature is always the goal, short films are not enough, but I’m not in a hurry and I’d rather have small but sure steps.
Director’s bio, short film summary, and photos from the official website of the Future Frames. More interviews are coming with the directors!