December 1st is as meaningful for Romanians as July 4th is to Americans. December 1st 1918 marks the day when Romanians’ ideals triumphed, when Transylvania (the heart of Romania) became united, after many centuries of struggle and sacrifice, with all the other separate regions around it (Bessarabia, Bucovina and Moldova). That was the moment when all Romanians became united in one national state and modern day Romania was formed.
I’m celebrating it in my heart as much as in my actions that I take everyday. Over the years I’ve self-analyzed my love-hate relationship with my homeland and the more I learn and discover about it and about its people, the more aware I am that it was the perfect place for me to be born. Romania for me is the place where my heart feels at home, where my sense of belonging is fulfilled to almost a saturation point, where the food nourishes my body in the healthiest way possible and where many times I may lack words, yet I can still be understood.
Matthew and I started celebrating Romania’s Unification Day by attending the sixth annual Romanian Film Festival in New York City. They opened their doors at the Lincoln Center in the city that never sleeps yesterday November 30th, and will be there through December 6th. Last year we were part of their amazing event at the TriBeca Cinema, where we had the chance to meet many wonderful people, some of whom ended up being a part of our gift to Romania: The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom.
This year The Romanian Film Festival has changed its location to Lincoln Center. It is both proof that Romania is moving to the next level and gaining popularity on the world stage, especially when it comes to film and culture. In this spirit we introduced The Romanian Institute to our tribute to Romania, and thanks to Andra Stoica, projects coordinator for the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, The Little Book of Romanian Wisdom is featured at the Film Festival.
The Film Festival started with the film Morgen, directed by Marian Crisan. This foreign Oscar submission is a charming fish-out-of-water tale about a supermarket security guard who quietly fights an obtuse system in order to smuggle a Kurdish immigrant across the border. Click here to watch the trailer
After the film, there was a lively reception party that was more Romanian than many in the country itself. Traditional Romanian food, wine and lots and lots of great conversation about the country and the remarkable things Romanians do, defined and lit up the evening.
We had the chance to reconnect with our friend Monica Birladeanu, the lovely actress (Francesca) featured on the cover of The Little Book of Wisdom. The book also contains some of Monica’s quotes and insights about her experiences in America.
Leaving my familiar environment in Romania, a place where I had family, friends and success for a completely new country who’s language I barely spoke and a city where I knew no one [Los Angeles], forced me to develop an intimate relationship with myself and become my best and only friend. I understood one of the most important things about relationships: if I’m not at peace and can’t even make myself happy, how can I hope to make anyone around me happy, no matter how much I’d want to?
We will be at the Festival again to see the short movie that Monica plays in, Stopover, directed by Ioana Uricaru. The movie is about a beautiful and cosmopolitan Romanian woman, Ingrid, married to a Norwegian. While waiting for her connecting flight in an Italian airport, her wallet is stolen and she’s left without any documents and money. This subtle story about compromise competed in Sundance 2011.
We also had the chance to meet and talk with Geoffrey Fletcher, the very talented Oscar-winning screenwriter of the movie Precious. Jeff shared with us how he knew since he got his hands on his first camera as a boy that he wanted to be making films when he grew up. Matthew also learned that Jeff had attended Harvard with and knew Matt Damon, who Matthew had appeared with in the film School Ties years ago.
Come enjoy a precious glimpse of Romania in New York through December 6th. We’ll be looking for you! As for me, I will continue my weeklong celebration of Romania’s Unification Day by attending a George Winston piano concert (remarkable story in process) and also by raising a glass of red wine and toasting my homeland.
Noroc! (Cheers in Romanian),