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ClermontFF2019 Cadoul de Craciun / The Christmas Gift

Wednesday 6 February 2019, by Abla Kandalaft

On the 20th of December, 1989, a few days after Ceausescu’s bloody repression in Timisoara, a father’s quiet evening turns to sheer ordeal as he finds out that his little son has mailed a wish letter to Santa. As the kid understood, his father’s desire was to see Ceausescu dead.

What motivated you to set the film at that time? Did you have direct experience of the Ceausescu period in Romania?

I have always been interested in this period perhaps because I grew up during Communism so that I experienced the benefits of this Brave New World. Also my family, like most of Romanian families at the time, was deeply affected by Ceausescu’s brainless and savage policies. In a way, I have lived similar stories to the one depicted in the film though, of course, the script is a complete fiction.

What sort of research did you carry out?

I studied also Political Philosophy and I have read a lot of books on the period but in this case I also conducted research on news archives from that precise day (Radio Free Europe for instance), documentaries and articles from news papers. Then I spoke to many witnesses of those so peculiar days so that I got this idea of shooting the film using a more documentary-like style.

Are you working mostly in Romania at present? Or more internationally? How did you start out in filmmaking?

As a director, I am working mainly in Romania (currently on a short animation) but as a script writer I have various projects in Italy, Bulgaria and other countries.

The idea works very well as a short film. Do you have any plans to direct features? What genres would you like to explore?

I do. I m actually working right now on a feature that expands the idea from the short. So in the future I’ll mostly stick to black comedy but, since I’m also about to finish an animation short, I might explore the idea of a feature animation (in the next few years :-)).

Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?

I like short films for the sense of freedom you have working on them. You can go all the way exploring the idea you have in any type of format, manner, style independent of politics that muddy the world of features.

Any message or comments?


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