Nae Caranfil • Director
"Every generation invents its own idiots"
by Stefan Dobroiu
- Romanian director Nae Caranfil chats to us about 6.9 on the Richter Scale, his fresh comedy touching on the ever-thorny topic of political correctness
Ever since his 1993 debut, E Pericoloso Sporgersi, Nae Caranfil has repeatedly explored new genres. His seventh feature, 6.9 on the Richter Scale [+see also:
interview: Nae Caranfil
film profile], is a musical comedy that laughs at present-day Romanian society. Also the film’s composer, the director chats about the challenges of making a flashy musical comedy in a cinematic landscape dominated by minimalist dramas.
Cineuropa: In 6.9 on the Richter Scale, you take unnerving topics (midlife crises, earthquakes) and turn them into comedy. Should comedy laugh at every topic?
Nae Caranfil: Absolutely. The nature of comedy is irreverent, if not outright provocative, and that’s why it can upset those with simpler minds. I remember a piece of advice I received from the late Frank Daniel, the Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor: you can pull the audience’s leg without any problems, as long as your intentions are always clear and precisely formulated. In this case, every viewer will chuckle, convinced that the target of the mockery is others and not him or her, because he or she has understood the joke. On the contrary, if things are not clear, that same viewer will get angry, because he or she doesn’t understand who’s pulling whose leg, and he or she can’t stand being looked down on or being taken for a fool by the film he or she is watching on the big screen.
What is your take on the current obsession with political correctness?
Every generation invents its own idiots. In life, when someone has nothing to offer to the world or to themselves, he or she becomes regimented. Enlisting in an army, in a utopia, in an artistic movement or fashion offers the illusion that he or she matters, even if they are only a cog in a mechanism they don’t understand. The expression "political correctness" is based on the concept of "correct". Let’s remember that during the communist regime, the equivalent term was "just" or "appropriate". À bon entendeur, salut!
What was the biggest challenge and the most satisfying aspect of making 6.9 on the Richter Scale?
The musical part. Writing the music (I ordered a special desk with a slide-in drawer, on which I installed a Yamaha keyboard), working on the orchestration together with my distinguished friends Bogdan Dimitriu and Liviu Mănescu, the hours spent recording the songs with my own voice so that the actors would know how to perform them in the film, the meeting with Serbian choreographer Milan Gromilic, the creation of the dance routines, the rehearsals on the dance floor, the corrections made to the orchestration so that it matched the choreography, the corrections made to the choreography so that it matched the modified orchestration, and the shooting of the final musical number (on a freezing set, with a dancer who injured herself on the last day of shooting, and wrapping the shoot at exactly one minute before midnight, which meant a perfect alignment with the agreed shooting schedule).
Last autumn, two Romanian comedies exceeded 130,000 admissions. Do you think the genre is making a comeback in Romania?
Has comedy (and I mean quality comedy) ever been ignored by Romanian audiences? Never. It has only been neglected by filmmakers, with the result being its near extinction from local film production. I am sure that the success of those films released last autumn is an encouraging sign.
The release of your previous film, Closer to the Moon [+see also:
film profile], suffered because of a lack of promotion. How will you compensate for this with Richter?
I am not in charge of the promotion of my films. I can only place all my hopes in the enthusiasm and professionalism of the Voodoo Films team and pray that the audiences will be there.
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