Emanuel Pârvu • Director of Mikado
“I know a film cannot change the world, but it can raise questions”
- We talked to the Romanian director, who seems determined to get to the bottom of complicated family situations in his sophomore feature
Romanian actor, screenwriter and director Emanuel Pârvu world-premiered his second feature, Mikado [+see also:
interview: Emanuel Pârvu
film profile], in the New Directors competition of the 69th San Sebastián Film Festival. Here is what the director has to say about his main interests when making movies and about the challenges faced by the Romanian film industry.
Cineuropa: Is there anything autobiographical in this story? What was your main interest, as a director, in telling it?
Emanuel Pârvu: The idea for this film was born a long time ago, but I just couldn’t make it happen until now. The premise of the story is somewhat autobiographical, and by this I mean that at some point, a parent gave a child a gift, and that gift was then given to someone else. But in my case, the gift reached a kid in an orphanage. Everything else is fiction, thank God. When I finally decided to turn this core into a story, I met with [screenwriter] Alexandru Popa, and after months of work, re-writes and discussions with producer Miruna Berescu, we finally had a draft that could be used for rehearsals.
My main purpose was to discuss a topic that preoccupies me. I know a film cannot change the world, but it can raise questions that could change us, as human beings. The origin of evil, free will and theodicy, all seen from the point of view of the instinct for survival: these are the topics I wanted to explore in my film. And I think we should ponder these topics more often.
Both of your films so far are centred on a relationship between a father and his daughter. What legacy are we supposed to leave for the next generations?
After Meda or the Not So Bright Side of Things [+see also:
interview: Emanuel Pârvu
film profile], I thought it was maybe better to focus on the relationship between blood relatives [as opposed to Meda, where the focus was on a teenage girl and her adoptive parent]. It was a good place to explore the complexity of love and all its ingredients – attention, care, commitment, trust – as shown from the point of view of an unexpected event, a “coincidence”. This pushed me towards asking a question: “How much of what we do can shape our destiny?”
I think the legacy we should leave to the next generations should be moral and cultural. These days, it is easy to mistake success for value, impertinence for courage and pride for dignity. Love between parent and offspring is the most powerful type of love. What can one do so that this love doesn’t substitute control for caring, indulgence and spoiling someone for attention, or abandonment for freedom?
What is your take on Cristi, your protagonist? Do you judge him in any way?
From the very first moment we started writing, I didn’t judge him. I think his way of loving his child is quite common; we see it at every step. Parents always think they know better, and perhaps this is the fastest way to ruin the relationship with a teenager – a relationship that is already difficult to begin with. In my personal life, I do my best not to be Cristi, although I really do have the urge. But I try to believe in my daughter and not check on her at every step.
You are an accomplished actor. Was that helpful when you started directing?
Very helpful indeed. I was aware of how difficult it was to be on the other side of the camera, how difficult it was to direct. And, more importantly, I knew how important it was to let your director know that he or she can count on you. If you’ll allow me this analogy, there are four dogs pulling the sled (and I say this without looking down on the work of other departments) in filmmaking: the producer, the director, the main actor and the director of photography. If any of these people pull in a different direction, the sled can overturn.
Speaking of overturning, an increasing number of voices in the Romanian film industry are complaining that filmmakers are not receiving the support they need or deserve. What could the Romanian authorities do about this, in your opinion?
A better approach to funding is necessary; I think the film fund should receive money from the state budget, as Romanian theatres do. There will always be people below the line [of winners in the project competitions], and this turns into frustration. There will always be filmmakers who will consider themselves wronged. But state involvement will increase peace of mind in a domain that has very successfully represented Romania abroad. I may be wrong, but filmmaking has been Romania’s best calling card over the last 15 years, yet this has never translated into better funding.
What can you say about your next feature-length project?
The screenplay is already written, and the producer, Miruna Berescu, will enter it into the next project contest [organised by the Romanian National Film Center]. It is another family drama, as I am still obsessed with exploring this social universe from both micro and macro points of view, as a child lives both in a family and in society.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.