LIFE BEATS REALITY / Romania
Andreea Vălean is an acclaimed scriptwriter, film and theatre director. She is the author of the theatre play If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle, which was turned into the Berlinale Silver Bear-winning film by Florin Serban in 2010. She also wrote scripts for The Way I Spent the End of the World and Palme d\’Or winning short Traffic, both directed by Catalin Mitulescu.
Pogo (11 ) comes into his sordid apartment in Bucharest, with a large bag full of clean clothes. While pinning the clothes on the line to dry, he is filming different details with his cell phone. He hears swearing from the living room. He turns and sees a man who has hung himself – his father . He stops the camera. Freak (16), Pogo\’s brother, is kicking his father’s dead body. Pogo tries to stop him. They fight for the first time ever by the dead body of their father.
Pogo’s is the story of a talented and very optimistic boy who does everything possible and impossible to bring his missing mother back home and to help his older brother to overcome his breakdown. The two brothers were left by their mother for a while, and lived through the experience of their father committing suicide in very different ways. The older brother became extremely depressed
and started doing drugs, while the younger became the head of the family, cooked and cleaned and ironed for the older one.
Pogo, the brave boy who matures way before his time in order to regain his mother and childhood, transforms the harsh reality of life in a sordid peripheral neighborhood into a show of tenderness, naivety and imagination. He is determined to win with his short film the TV contest titled „Life Beats Reality”.
The dream world within which he unintentionally travels from his bright and childish dreams to those dark and heavy ones of his depressive brother, expresses the vitality and strength of his character and stress the fight which is still to be fought, not only in everyday life but also at night, in his sleep: the depressive brother’s dreams which invade his optimistic ones.
The film is about love for life, courage and talent, about how a work of art can change someone’s life, even if for just one second, a second of emotional self-examination.
Pogo’s is the story of a talented and very optimistic boy who does everything possible and impossible to bring his mother back home. It is inspired by my childhood experience in the neighborhood Rahova. At the beginning of the 1990s many of the mothers in my neighborhood left home to work in Turkey or Italy.The children who stayed behind, without mothers, were special, growing up free, they could spend as much time as they wanted on the streets, had no curfew, but were also often hungry, dirty, sensitive and vulnerable.
The theme of innate optimism, of the man being “born happy” fascinates me, especially if embodied by a child character. The subject of fighting with life’s hardships without victimizing oneself, but on the contrary, is also more compelling in the case of the child character.
The film is about love of life, courage and talent. About how a work of art can change someone’s life, even if for just one second, a second of emotional self-examination.
The message is that beauty is everywhere, waiting to be discovered, that people have a chance to save themselves until the last moment.
As a debutant film director, the method which the main character uses to create his own life\’s film, starting with still pictures, moving on to simple frames and ending with an elaborate editing and an impressive soundtrack will give me the opportunity to explore together with Pogo a road to discovery of different filming, editing and directing techniques as well as composing the film music.
Style of the film should be somewhere between Once upon a Time in America (the part when they were young), Slumdog Millionaire”, and The Life Before Us. The original part is in how a child handles all life’s challenges and manages to also make a film!
The way Pogo films and edits is in direct dependence with the films he watches and his evolution as visual artist. Step by step, he becomes aware of the importance of light, colour, setting as well as of how to manipulate reality in an artistic manner. Through discovering his roots, his grandfather, he discovers his real talent, his true calling. And even though his film does not succeed, its music impresses us. This is a film about a child who translates his life into a film which he hopes to impress one single viewer, his mother.
A special part is the mutual dream. The two brothers share dreams, they cross one into the other’s dream, a dimension of the magic realism characteristic of Gabriel Garcia Marquez combined with that specific to Emir Kusturica, which allows the director to play. In the same sense, the drugs, which Pogo discovers by chance, can lead us into a similar world to the one which Dumbo, the cartoon character, discovers when he gets drunk. It is the same type of tenderness.
The main conflict is between how people choose to see their own lives. Pogo and Gramps are optimists, they always see beauty in all things, they find joy in everything. Freak is a pessimist, he sees only misery and unhappiness. Same is with the art the two brothers experiment with. Freak writes hip-hop lyrics, is a dark philosopher who is disgusted by everything, especially by Gramps of whom he is very ashamed.
Pogo makes films about sunsets in the neighborhood and sings together with Gramps about the beauty of life. In an extreme situation Pogo proves to be much stronger and succeeds in convincing Freak that his life is a gift, as it is, and he manages indirectly to save his mom.