2007 is a special and important year in the history of the Romanian Film Festival in London. The Festival has become a major event in the Romanian cultural network, which has, in one decade, achieved one of the most distinctive profiles in Europe. Such artists as Paul Neagu and Brancusi were already viewed as high priests of European modernism, but in the years since the restoration of democracy a broad coalition of Romanian artists and cultural figures has begun to create a buzz of excitement around the world about their practice and ideas.
By a happy coincidence 2007 is also the ninetieth anniversary of Ion Ratiu’s birth. Ion Ratiu was founder of the Ratiu Family Foundation and the active guardian of Romanian democratic values during the most difficult years of Communist dictatorship; and an important part of his vision was concerned with the preservation and development of Romanian culture.
In 2007, seven years after Ion Ratiu passed on, Romanian artists have begun to come to terms with their new political and social environment, celebrating the country’s new status within Europe by exploring and re-assessing the years of Communist rule, as well as the Revolution which brought them to an end.
Film makers have been at the forefront of this movement, and the Romanian Film Festival in London was the first event to play a role in presenting a variety of these works to the British market. For example, The Death of Mr Lazarescu (director Cristi Puiu – and distributed by Tartan Films) opened our 2006 Festival, and 12:08 East of Bucharest (director Corneliu Porumboiu – distributor Artificial Eye) opens the 2007 Festival.
Following our successful championing of fictional features, the Ratiu Foundation UK is proud to announce the launch, during this year’s Romanian Film Festival, of a new documentary programme, STEPdoc. The programme will consist of a mobility grant (worth £1500) which will allow a Romanian film maker, at an early stage of his/her career, one month of immersion in the UK documentary culture, towards the development of a documentary project with international potential. STEPdoc aims to help reinforce the development of a Romanian documentary culture, which has so far been restricted by historical restraints.
We are confident that, taken together, these commemorations and initiatives will establish 2007 as a benchmark year in the progress of Romanian art and culture abroad, and we are certain that this year’s Romanian Film Festival in London will, therefore, stand out as the most notable and successful event of its kind in our cultural history.
Chairman, Ratiu Foundation UK