Sydney Film Festival: Cinema, mon amour

India Bradley
15th Jun 2016

The critically acclaimed Romanian documentary, Cinema, mon amour, provides a bleak, yet seemingly accurate depiction of the role of the cinema in modern day Romania. Directed by Alexandro Belc, this film is a heartbreaking ode to cinema. The Romanian and Czech production has been the winner of a plethora of awards.

Before the fall of communism in Romania, film played a large role in the country. The 300-400 cinemas in Romania decreased to a meagre 30. With no support from the government, cinema was forced into a journey that was doomed to result in loss and death. Throughout this film, Viktor attempts to bring the magic back to his heatless and crumbling cinema. Through a focus on Viktor’s mannerisms and whimsical nature, the audience is able to imagine a time when his cinema was thriving and full of life and interest. Viktor allows and encourages the audience to transport themselves back in time.

The film makes use of long, drawn out moments and a slow pace - for some audience members, a sure way to induce sleep. Funnily enough, the exact moment I fell asleep was what was I’m guessing to be the height of the film, a transition from an empty cinema to one with a small amount of customers.

Viktor, the main subject of this film, has larger than life qualities that are exaggerated and celebrated throughout. The beauty of this film came from the portrayal of Viktor. He is conveyed as a dedicated, loving, theatrical man who never gives up on his passion and dreams. Throughout the film, Viktor is adored by his assistants Cornelia and Lorena. The film made a good attempt at focusing on Viktor's love for cinema, through use of subject matter and a focus on basic human mannerism and interaction. I found however, this attempt became slow and had me literally on the edge of my seat waiting for a scene change.

Cinema, mon amour translates as ‘cinema my love’. This term was touched on and also contradicted throughout this documentary. It was not the subject matter, nor Viktor who let down the film, but instead the style. The story, which was already bleak in nature, was transformed into a muted, slow paced representation of the loss of something magical. The story followed and revealed Viktor’s powerful connection to cinema and his desire to share it with all, however the execution and cinematography provides a strangely bleak, un-engaging experience.

Cinema, mon amour screened as part of the 2016 Sydney Film Festival.