Saturday, October 26, 2013

Women in Film: Clara Vodă

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Romanian actress Clara Vodă is a rare gem in the acting industry. Not only has she portrayed some highly complex roles in films that form part of the New Romanian Cinema (2001 - today), but she has recently proved her ability to perform on a transnational level, working with Spanish documentary filmmaker Chema Rodríguez on his debut narrative feature Night Falls in India/ Anochehe en la India (2013). 

I first saw Clara perform on stage over ten years ago in a Romanian theatre production in Melbourne. The play focused on the life of Maria Callas, particularly emphasising the tragedy of the singer's vocal decline. Clara and Bogdan Vodă (partner and fellow actor) delivered supporting roles answering to the principles of Theatre of the Absurd that were comically clever, passionate and energetic. I managed to meet Clara after the show, even though she was adorned with flowers and praise from other Romanian fans, and she was just as lovely in person as I imagined.

Since then Clara has acted in a variety of important films working alongside some interesting directors that reside at the forefront of Romanian cinema today - Cristi Puiu, Adrian Sitaru, Cătălin Mitulescu, Florin Șerban, Tudor Giurgiu and Paul Negoescu. Her experiences of working on films that satirize the communist past, such as Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr Lazarescu/ Moartea domnului Lăzărescu (2005) and Mircea Daneliuc's Snail's Senator/ Senatorul Melcilor (1995) have proved vital to my research on exploring the socio-political nuances in Romanian cinema pre-1989 and post-Revolution - today. 

Clara is a diverse actress who has continued and will endure to impress audiences on a national and international scale.

View Clara's showreel here.

When I Want to Whistle, I Whistle/ Eu când vreau să fluierfluier (2010) Florin Șerban

Snail's Senator/ Senatorul Melcilor (1995) Mircea Daneliuc

Waves/ Valuri (2007) Adrian Sitaru

This photo of Clara is derived from the blog Micafotografa - photography by Bucharest based actress and photographer Ana Maria Moldovan.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Published Work: The Cinema of Béla Tarr: The Circle Closes

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Here is the link to a book review I wrote on The Cinema of Béla Tarr: The Circle Closes (2013) András Bálint Kovács, published online at the academic journal Screening the Past.

Film Review: Hello Kitty (2011) Millo Simulov

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

It might be the fact that I have been totally immersed in my thesis on Béla Tarr that I have managed to pinpoint similar themes in Millo Simulov's short film Hello Kitty (24 mins) or it may be my current obsession with the spiritual writings of Mircea Eliade. Nevertheless this idea of portraying a sense of hyper-reality in film certainly comes to play in Hello Kitty. It portrays a group of five male friends who escape the city for a day at the beach. They opt to drive a car embellished in Hello Kitty stickers belonging to one of their sisters after another car they planned to take breaks down. On the way to the beach the characters encounter a number of strange experiences which are amplified by the invasiveness of the sun, either shining into the camera or obstructing the characters visage. The sun alongside a strange otherworldly sound (those familiar with Mihály Víg's sound work on Tarr's films will know what I mean) creates a sense of nausea resulting in a foreboding atmosphere. Props need to be addressed to sound designer Tudor Popescu in this case, as he really manages to mesh the sound with the image in a harmonious way. 

By the end of the film one of the characters disappears while swimming into the night, merging into the abyss. This cuts to a sequence of shots focusing on the belongings of the characters which are now infested with flies before moving to an image of the friends, only four of them remaining, glaring out towards the horizon between the pink sky and the sea, sobbing for their lost brother - a meloncholic violin tune (à la Víg) supporting their grief. Immediately I had problems with this final image - personally I would have cut it at the image of the flies to leave the audience with that morbid feeling that had been established to this point by concoction of the sun and sinister noise. However, on second consideration I understand the importance of including this final shot, because without it, the balance between reality and the unexplained would not have been level. Suffice to say I was quite taken with Mr. Simulov's short and I look forward to exploring more of his oeuvre.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Visual Diary: The Party and the Guests/ O slavnosti a hostech (1966) Jan Němec

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

The film that was "banned forever" by the Czechoslovakian government for it's anti-regime portrayals. A must-see for anyone and everyone interested in Eastern European cinema. 

Interesting how each of the stills below are so centred evoking a sense of harmony - picture perfect.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Women in Film: Lucyna Winnicka

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Lucyna was a Polish actress who sadly passed away earlier this year. In her lifetime she appeared a number of reputable roles alongside actors such as Zbigniew Cybulski (1927-1967) and Leon Niemczyk (1923-2006). Lucyna is most remembered for her portrayal as the protagonist in Jerzy Kawalerowicz' Mother Joan of the Angels/ Matka Joanna od Aniołów (1961), which she received the Special Jury Prize at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fashion in Film: Jaroslava Schallerová

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Czech actress Jaroslava Schallerová is probably best known for her role in Valerie and her Week of Wonders (1970) directed by Jaromil Jireš (see visual diary here). This post is a celebration of her personal style with some stills taken from films, nevertheless Jaroslava was a natural beauty of 1970's Czechoslovakian cinema.