New Delhi, Nov 20 (UNI) Abortion was banned in Romania in 1966. By the end of the Communist period in 1989, as many as five lakh women had died in the process of illegal termination of unwanted pregnancy.
'Four Months, Three Weeks and Two days', the opening film of the International Film Festival of India(IFFI) beginning at Goa from November 23 is the story of one such illegal abortion invloving two young women students.
The film, directed by Cristian Mungiu has won Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Cristian and the lead actress of the film Anmaria Marinca will be attending the premier of the film at IFFI.
The film is set in 1987, the last days the Ceausescu regime.
Otilia and Gabita share the same room in a student dormitory. When Gabita falls pregnant, the two girls arrange a meeting with Mr Bebe (Vlad Ivanov) in a cheap hotel, where he is to perform an illegal abortion. Out of the tension and the trauma of their situation in the society in the last days of communism, the director has created a powerful and moving film.
The film is part of a larger project called 'Tales from the Golden Age' which he describes as subjective history of communism in Romania told through its urban legends.
''It talks about the period with no direct reference to Communism but only through different stories focussed on personal options in a time of misfortunes that people had to live like normal limes,'' said the director in an introduction to the film.
However, he said that he has tried to make a film about his characters and about his story and not about the period.
''I wanted the period to be always just the context and not the subject,'' said Cristian.
He said he always tried to respect and recreate realities as much as he could but not to push stereotypes and landmarks of late communist times in front of the camera.
To bring the touch of realism in the scenes was difficult as the 1980s are already 'period', said Cristian. In that period there was no light on the streets, just two ours of programming on the sole TV channel, very little gasoline for cars, and a bleak and grey atmosphere overall. This explains the grading of the film.
''We decided to keep things as simple as possible. We decided to shoot one shot per scene and to allow the actor to use the space behind the camera. We made a strategy of shooting people from behind. We dropped little by little, everything that could be considered too nice or too staged..,'' he said.
''I shoot locations;I don't like sets,'' he added.
Cristian said he is happy that he has been able to chose the right actors for his characters.
He said that when he concieved his character, he had only one actor in mind: Vlad Ivanov--the actor who plays Mr Bebe.
For Gabita, he said, he was able to rope in Laura Vasiliu whom he had worked with in his first film Occident, but for some reason that could not happen. later he worked with in commercials and realised she was capable of generating a lot of emotions.
''I had doubts at the beginning because she was not quite young enough for the role but she was so convincing that she soon dispelled them.'' Cristian says that a week before the shoot he was still missing his main character and running out of solutions and he had almost seen every Romanian actress between the ages of 18 and 28 and still had not found his character, and then he decided to bring Anmaria Marinbca from london. After winning the Bafta awards for her first film, she had moved to England.
He said that in her first meeting with her , he was disappointed.
''Anmaria as a person was not my character.. Next day we read scenes together and the transformation was amazing. My character was talking through Anmaria's mouth, as if she was possessed. She was great--the whole film rests on her shoulder.'' Cristian Mungiu was born in 1968 in lasi, Romania. He studied English literature and film direction before working as a teacher and a journlist.
After his graduation he made several short films and his first feature film was 'Occident' which was premierd in Director's Fortnight in Cannes in 2002 and was later screened in over 50 festivals. Later he made 'Turkey Girl' and then 'Tales from the Golden Age'.
After making its worldwide debut at Cannes, the film made its Romanian debut on June 1, at the Transilvania International Film Festival.