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Mihai Chirilov • Artistic director, TIFF

“We have developed a strong industry side”

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- In 2011, the Transilania International Film Festival was accredited to FIAPF, making it one of the top 40 international competitive film festivals

Mihai Chirilov • Artistic director, TIFF

The Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF) is currently in its 10th edition, and, almost like a special birthday gift, was accredited to FIAPF this year, making it one of the top 40 international competitive film festivals. Artistic director Mihai Chirilov, who has been with the festival since its first edition, sat down with Cineuropa during the festival.

Cineuropa: What are the biggest differences between the 1st edition and now?
Mihai Chirilov: Obviously it got bigger. In 2002 we screened 45 films for a total number of 9,000 viewers. For this tenth edition we have ten different venues and more than 200 films. So far, the ticket sales of this year are about 20% ahead compared to last year, when we issued 60,000 tickets. Our reputation has also grown, nationally and internationally which is perhaps predictable but not something we take for granted.

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Has the audience changed as well?
The festival is intended to be an audience festival, which is still the case, but over the years we have developed a strong industry side and this is first year with a published industry guide. This is strongly linked with the birth of the New Romanian Cinema, which attracted a lot of international attention and inspired industry people to come here to get a first look at the local films. We have the selections from Cannes but also world premieres and closed and work-in-progress screenings for industry people.

Is it a coincidence that this New Wave coincided with the idea of mounting an international film festival?
We had the idea to start a festival in September 2001, just after the first film of what would become the new wave, Stuff and Dough by Cristi Puiu, had offered a first glimmer of hope by being selected by Cannes. Our first edition, in 2002, had this film as well as Occident, the debut of Cristian Mungiu. It was a happy coincidence that we both started at the same time. The high points of the festival coincide with the high points of Romanian cinema culminating in 2010 edition with films such as Aurora [+see also:
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interview: Clara Voda
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, Tuesday, After Christmas) [+see also:
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interview: Radu Muntean
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]
, The Autobiography of Nicola Ceaucescu [+see also:
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and the distribution of films such as Medal of Honor, First of all, Felicia) [+see also:
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interview: Melissa de Raaf and Razvan …
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and If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle [+see also:
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interview: Ada Condeescu
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]
. There was no Golden Palm but it’s clear this is really a wave, not a few drops.

How would you describe your approach to programming the festival?
Apart from what would become the Romanian Days section that showcases local films, we knew early on that we wanted to have an international competition that focused on first and second films. From the beginning, we decided to avoid playing safe, as these films did not attract many visitors in regular arthouses at all. But we wanted to show audiences something they’d never seen before and liked the idea of being a young festival with a focus on young filmmakers. Several other sections show bigger international films from known directors.

How is the festival expanding?
It’s a challenge, to grow but keep it human. We tried to expand the visibility in the outskirts of the city this year, with outdoor screenings in a popular neighbourhood and screenings at a multiplex on the edge of town. The open-air screenings have been a huge success, with 700-1000 people each evening. It’s very informal, there are no seats and people just sit down, bring their own things and watch a film.

What’s the impact of the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations) accreditation?
At the beginning I didn’t pay that much attention to it because this is a technical recognition and I deal with the artistic side. But now I use it as an argument in the festival’s favour. One of things I’m grateful for is that this recognition forces us to invest more money in the technical side of festival, in the quality of the screenings. And it shows locals that we can compete on an international level.

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