This year’s Romanian Oscar entry is a remarkable film entitled ‘Morgen’. The film captures the harsh treatment of the immigrant population in Eastern Europe by telling the haunting story of a Kurdish man who must cross the Hungarian border to reunite with his family in Germany. The film was directed by the exceptionally talented Marian Crisan, whose love of cinema and experiences in Romania inspired the poignant story.
What led you to become a filmmaker?
In the eighties, back in my hometown of Salonta, West Romania, I was watching tones of films on videocassettes.Together with my brother and father we had a collection of more than 1000 movies on tapes. A lot of American blockbusters, french films, also kung fu films etc. Me an my brother wondered how do they make them? We start researching and find out that there’s a team behind it all and on top of that team there’s guy named movie director. We wanted to be that or at least director of photography. We were 10 years old. Now my brother works in a big company but is a constant moviegoer.
The film ‘Morgen’ deals with issues that have plagued Eastern Europe for some time. What made you want to make a film about a foreigner in Romania?
The fact is that I wanted to make a film about my hometown Salonta. About people living there. I lived there for 20 years.So the idea was to depict people and places there. People who I know and places that I knew as in the palm of my hand. For me, places are very important in film.
I started the script after reading a small newspaper article in the local paper in the winter of 2008. It was just after Christmas. I was in Salonta, home. It was warm and comfortable and I was reading this piece of news about two Kurdish immigrants caught by the Border Police in a freezing river canal just near my hometown…I felt for those men. I imagined them there on the fields and in the river trying desperately to cross the border while I was inside together with my family.
I started to imagine a journey of an immigrant that stops in Salonta for a while. And I tried to research and them imagine and encounter between a local guy of Salonta and a man on his way to the West. It intrigued me. What would happen if a regular guy from Salonta would meet a real stranger?….
It developed really quickly I may say, because I started to imagine the story from the point of view of the local guy meeting the immigrant. That was my choice to try and tell the story from the point of view of the people the emigrant meets on his way. I think its fair to talk about certain things from the point of view that you know more or control. I knew a lot about the mentalities and habits of the people living in the farmhouses on the border zone and less about immigrants.
The truth is that we, Romanians are also a country that exports immigrants. That happened a lot in the nineties til 2007 when we entered the European Union. So I think Romanians and people coming from the east have a kind of solidarity regarding many issues, including immigration.
The actors in the film were so genuine. Were they experienced performers? How did you find them?
We worked mainly with actors coming from small theaters in West Romania. They were mixed with amateur actors. Most of them were on the big screen for the first time. It was and adventure finding them , working with them and searching the characters together. Yilmaz Yalcin playing the immigrant was also a big heart and lot of energy on the set.
It may be argued that the film industry in Eastern Europe in ahead of its time. Films Would you agree?
I think we filmmakers in Romania live in a kind of golden era. We are free to express ourselves after so many years of censorship and government control on art including cinema. So I think films from Romania are reflecting the state our art is right now. We look for a cinema that is daring, true, innovative. I don’ t know how long it will last but til then we try to put on screen stories that we believe in.
Do you see yourself working on American films?
I would love to work on an American film or production. I believe that American cinema is maybe the greatest cinema in history. Some of my favourite movies come from there. Like films of Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen.