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2014, 90m, adventure, comedy, family
In a village deep in Transylvania, two young friends (one Roma) embark on the journey of their lives in an attempt to become actors in the big city and come back the same night filled with glory. Their journey takes you through the picturesque, multi-ethnic Transylvania with beautiful landscapes all the way to the sparkling, bustling city of Cluj-Napoca as the two runaways go through a series of adventures that will make you laugh and your heart throb.
Produced by: Radu Bazavan
Cast: Sebastian Topan, Darius Stoic, Elena Ivanca, Ioan Selesi
10 questions with Transylvanian Garlic director, Lucian Alexandrescu at the half-way mark.
Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
1Hi Lucian! Thanks for being a part of our 2016 Spring Festival. First what was the initial inspiration that made you want to make this film? I always had this idea to make a film in Transylvania at country side.
Most of Romanian films are done in Bucharest. Nobody before us had made a Romanian feature film in Transylvania with local actors and people. So I took this responsibility upon myself.
2I loved your two leading child actors Sebastian Topan and Darius Stoic. How did you find these two incredible actors and what was it like working with them? We found Sebi in a village from Salaj county (where we shot most of the film). He comes from a family of 5 kids. He is so talented and natural (actually he is really pursuing his acting career as we speak). And Darius, we found him in city of Zalau, he's coming from a very talented family of musicians. He learned to play the violin in early stages of his life. and now I can say he'll have a great future as a violinist.
Both kids was incredible natural and easy to work with. Most scenes we shot with them we knocked down in 2-3 takes.
3This is your first feature film you've directed. How did you know you were ready? This is my first long feature film. In the past I did a few short films as well (mainly comedies). I also worked in video production for about 15 years. And in 2012 it felt ready to start shooting a long feature film. Also the timing was really good for me.
4The script was written by Radu Bazavan. How did the script come into your hands? Did he write it for you? Did he write it and then seek you out to direct it? How did this happen? Radu and I are friends since childhood. We both used to live in the same complex buildings in Sibiu.
While in 1998 I moved to Miami, Radu had moved to Cluj, (Transylvania). During the next 15 years he became a known blogger, and myself I manage to master the craft of filmmaking in Miami.
The idea of the script begun during one of my trip/ vacation to Romania. I met with Radu at a bar as it became a tradition to do so every time I was in Romania, and after a few beers, talking about technology and cameras, I asked Radu "why don't you write a script? Write something which takes place at the country side in Transylvania, and something with kids" and I'll take care of visualizing as a film. And 4 -5 month later Radu sent me a draft of a script called Garlic, and so it begun.
5This film was shot in Romania. Is there an indie movie scene our there? How difficult was it to shoot your film there? Transylvanian Garlic it's the first full length feature film independently financed in Romania. Meaning me and Radu financed the film from our own pockets, that kind of "independent". After many attempts and trials to get the film financed (privately or government), we decided to go in our own bank accounts and make it happen.
I can't say that was difficult to shoot in Romania. We had a great location scouter (Mircea Groza who plays himself as a chef in the film) who new a lot of people in the area, and Radu also made a lot of favors happen. Except the weather (the first week decided to rain nonstop), the ride of Garlic was pretty smooth and fun.
6I love stories about characters pursuing a goal that you know will fail (these two boys trying to get to Hollywood). I know these kids won't get to Hollywood but I'm still curious on how it will all pan out. What made you want to tell this type of fun adventure story? Well, most of the films that comes out of Romania are dramas or very heavy subjects.
Radu and I wanted to make the opposite. A comedy which doesn't take itself to serious, with a happy ending and easy to watch. Also we wanted to bring an homage to our childhood, which not always was easy. I think many people of my age can find themselves in the character of those 2 kids. Also, I remembered that as a kid we didn't see color or race. I had all kind of friends from german to hungarian to gypsy. I think making a story with children it's easier to make people open their minds about the racial problems in Romania. Gypsies(Roma) are not that welcomed by Romanians and Europe. Having a Romanian kid befriend a gypsy kid was an important part of our story and it shows to the adults that it's possible to put aside race and color and just be friends. And I think we succeeded in accomplishing that.
7My favorite scene might be where the kids are escaping from school and we see them pretending to cross invisible bridges and make their escape seem more dramatic. What's your favorite scene and why? My favorite scenes are the ones about kids journey. They are so natural and innocent that makes me nostalgic of my childhood.I also love the scene with Pepe the ram.
Imagination is so much more developed at early age than when we're adults. I think during adulthood we loose the most part of the imagination we had when we were young.
8I also thought your film had a very good ending. In your opinion, how important is a strong ending? Ending it's important as it's the climax of a story. People are curious to know exactly what happened in the end. As a young kid I always complained about many European films, which never had a very explaining final. I always was curious to know what happened in the end. That's why I was attracted more to American films when i was young.
For Transylvanian Garlic, we wanted to have a happy and clear ending. It's almost like we are saying"it was all for fun, folks!"
9What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? I can't say that it was just one film. I think was a combination of many. But I will always remember the first film I saw at the cinema when I was 6 years old, it was an Italian comedy (spaghetti style cinema) with Bud Spencer - "The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid". I remembered that I laughed so much, and from that moment I was hooked.
10What's next? I have a few ideas in mind. One idea is to use the same title 'Transylvanian Garlic' for a series of 2 more films. They are all connected to the word "garlic" but each film will be a totally different story and genera.
I want to do a Dracula comedy as a second film, as no Dracula movie was done by Romanians so far and this will be comedy with horror elements. And the third film will be a comedy thriller.
Also I'm thinking to do a film in Miami as I lived here for over 18 years.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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