Mara Trifu is an emerging filmmaker in Romania whom I hope to see more work from in the next few years. Information on her background is scarce, in fact, all I managed to stumble across is that she is a visual artist from Transilvania who lives and works in Bucharest.
I recently saw her documentary short Japanese Fig Tree/ Gutuiul Japonez (2011) which competed at the annual Gopo Awards in 2012, but unfortunately did not gain the attention it deserves. This is a stunning picture from composition, editing, sound and right down to the narrative itself. It focuses on a 90 year old woman, Madame Grosu, who lives alone and shows us the daily tasks she is faced with, for example, the effort of reaching up high to water her plants and providing for a bunch of abandoned kittens that "some Turkish fella" left her with . She admires her backyard and the beautiful plants that dwell there, in particular a Japanese Fig Tree. There is also a personal story that she reveals to us. She talks of the regret she is faced with everyday because of final words that were spoken and/or unspoken towards a late loved one. Trifu presents a sad, but heartfelt and beautiful picture of life where the focus on sunlight and chiaroscuro-like shadow become a metaphor for time, life and death.
Trifu has directed another short titled You Can't Hide Love From the Gypsies (2011), but I am waiting desperately for more. It's absolutely exciting to see women filmmakers emerging in Eastern Europe.
View a snippet of the film here.