14 Nov Arta by Adrian Sitaru (Romania), 2014
First Films First is starting a new initiative where we present to you short fiction films that young film-makers can learn from. Every week, we will stream for free an artistically accomplished, and often critically acclaimed film that did not require a big budget or complicated production. The aim is to show that idea and directing approach what matters the most.
Adrian Sitaru is known in arthouse circles as a filmmaker who both employs with tenets of the New Romanian Wave, but also ironically plays with them, subverting and turning the sub-genre upside down.
In Arta, a director wants to make a film about sexual abuse of an underage prostitute, and holds a casting with 12 year-old girl, accompanied by her mom. Sitaru uses this tricky situation to posit questions about the thin line between where abuse starts and stops, and when it might be justified, but also about the nature of the European film industry, and filmmaking as a tool for social change – and how sincere filmmakers are in this attempt. Intensely thought-provoking, the film is heavily based on dialogue, but Sitaru overcomes the limitations with some clever and humorous shots, and also uses visual means to ironically poke at the frequent (mis)use of magical realism in arthouse cinema.