Andreea Dumitriu is a Romanian film director based in the Netherlands. She graduated in 2015 from the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht, department of documentary film. The attempt to unite two worlds separated by thousands of kilometers is reflected in the short documentary “Moving Forward”. The last days of an endangered subculture, the livestock markets of Romania, are portrayed in “When Loses Patience”. In addition to short documentaries, she also directed and produced a television program (‘First Time’, Holland Doc), as well as various commisioned videos.
Her Story, Her Future: How did you become interested in documentary film?
Andreea Dumitriu: While working at an environmental organization in Amsterdam, I noticed that one of the best ways to start a discussion on a controversial topic is to watch a movie. I proposed to my team that we look for a film director with whom we can collaborate on making a documentary film on the theme of our campaign. This task was assigned to me, but I couldn’t find anyone interested, so I decided to make the film myself. Clearly I did not know what I was getting myself into, and only the exhuberance of my age and the confidence in the importance of that story made me complete the project. I managed to get funding and to hire professionals, it was my first film school. And I couldn’t stop. I left that organization to study documentary film.
HSHF: Although you live in the Netherlands, you have made films both in the Netherlands with Romanian protagonists and in Romania. What attracts you to Romanian subjects and how do you see them integrated into universal themes?
AD: Wherever people live there are universal themes. All my films start from some personal quests, some questions related to the desire to understand what are the power relations in society, how changes and decisions at the macro level influence everyday life and the individual. And vice versa, how the individual can influence decisions at the macro level. I think it’s a natural reaction, once far away from Romania, to want to understand what’s happening in the country. Another aspect that attracts me to Romanian subjects is the way of expression specific to Romanians. I think that every culture has a way of expression, of interaction, which gives rise to a certain type of artistic expression. Dutch culture, for example, has given rise to a type of humor in observational documentary that I understand rationally but don’t neccesarily feel. Romanians interact and express themselves in an expressive and very important way, in a way that I can effortlessly relate to. Finally, the choice of subjects is also influenced by the life experience in a certain country, in a certain culture. Lately I’ve been interested in Dutch topics, maybe because I’ve lived in this country long enough to have something to say. After many years, I am in the position of being both an insider and an outsider in two cultures. It’s a very good position for a documentary filmmaker.
HSHF: Your short film “When Time Loses patience” observes an archaic world of those who sell animals in the market. How did you manage to create a film in a public space that is at the same time intimate?
AD: I spent a lot of time in that space, felt the atmosphere and sought to understand what sylistic choices naturally fit the energy of that place. For a film like this, with a minimalist narrative, it is essential to be able to convey emotion through rhythm, through image, through sound. The relationship with the characters probably also mattered. It’s a tough world, many of the markets where I filmed were illegal, it was hard to gain people’s trust. But once the trust was built, and once we spent enough time there such that the cameraman and I became part of the set, people’s attention shifted back to their own lives, to their purpose in that place. And I was able to film authentic fragments of life in those markets.
HSHF: You are about to release a new documentary of longer duration. Can you say something about it and the work on this film?
AD: My new film, “Waiting for a Miracle”, is a documentary about the pilgrimage to the relics of Saint Parascheva from Iaṣi. The idea of this film was born during the time period in which I researched for “When Time Loses Patience”. From a stylistic point of view it is similar to this film, it shares my interest for capturing the atmosphere that is created in certain public spaces. In this film I explore the waiting again, though this is not a waiting that predicts the end, but a waiting that becomes a religious experience. I see this documentary as a meditation on the need for a miracle in Romanian society. The work on this film was scaterred across the last few years and now it’s in the final stages. I can’t wait to meet the audience.
HSHF: One of the biggest challenges in making a film is the financing. How do you approach this part and what funding sources do you access?
AD: So far I have only worked with local Dutch funds. And personal investments, especially time. I tried to access international funds, but without success.
HSHF: What movie have you seen recently that intrigued you and which one would you recommend?
AD: The first film that comes to mind is “Shabu”, directed by Shamira Raphaëla. It is a film about a young man, Shabu, who lives in a poor neighborhood of Rotterdam. Shabu is a very strong character who puts you in contact with the Surinamese community in the neighborhood. It is an optimistic film of someone from an unfavorable environment, a film about human creativity and resilience.
HSHF: How do you see your next steps in the world of film?
AD: I hope to stumble as little as possible and get up as quickly as possible. Seriously, I’ve been wanting to explore the video installation area for a long time, I hope it materializes soon. I am researching for a new documentary film project.
”When Time Loses Patience” (2017, 21min, documentary)
Netherlands Film Festival (première) / Eastern Neighbour FFl, Cronograf IFF – Public Award; Rock Film Festival – Best Documentary Film, Lakecity Film Festival Nigeria / broadcasted by NPO Cultura, The Netherlands / published by 2doc.nl (Documentary online platform of the Dutch Public Broadcasting Organisation NPO)
Link film: When Time Loses Patience on Vimeo
”Moving Forward” (2015, 14 min, documentary)
Go Short International Film Festival, Nijmegen (première) / Gemak Art Gallery, The Hague, The Netherlands / Spotlight: Romania Film Festival, The Hague, The Netherlands / broadcasted by NPODoc
”The Farmer and the Gene” (2008, documentary, 24min) De Balie, Amsterdam – première / Lumière Cinema, Maastricht / Wageningen University, Wageningen / viewing Dutch parliament / 8 other screenings in the Netherlands and Belgium.