Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Magic of FânFest in Roșia Montană

Our School's audience at FânFest Roșia Montană. Photo credit: Mona Nicoara (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC

We had an incredible screening last night at FânFest Roșia Montană. Full house, with folks standing along the walls and sitting on the floor, shaking the windows with their laughter. Wonderful Q&A. This is an audience interested in social change, in using Romania's human capital and national wealth responsibly, and in making the right choices for future generations.

FânFest Roșia Montană was set up to build public awareness against a surface mining project that would strip the mountains surrounding this valley with cyanide to extract gold and silver and would displace the entire community of Roșia Montană. The area has been mined for gold for millenia - long before the Romans came to make Transylvania part of their empire. There are now over 150 kilometers of Roman and pre-Roman mining galleries, which are slated to be listed in the UNESCO World Heritage. But the mining project proposed by the the Roșia Montană Gold Corporation would do away with the historic galleries and, indeed, with a few whole mountains around the small town of the Roșia Montană. Over the past 10 years, the Roșia Montană Gold Corporation bought land, houses, and even graves from the locals, relocating living families and human remains, and allowing old houses now in the property of the corporation to deteriorate - promising to renovate the historic monuments and build a tourist dystopia at the foot of the cyanide-stripped mountains only if the mining project goes ahead. While some locals have sold their properties to the Roșia Montană Gold Corporation, many oppose the mining project and refuse to sell - and they are supported by vibrant Romanian NGOs, opinion leaders and international groups like Greenpeace. 

Sign saying "This property is NOT for sale" in  Roșia Montană. Photo credit: Mona Nicoara (c) Sat Mic Film, LLC
Just being there was incredibly moving. It was partly personal: Most of Director-Producer Mona Nicoară's family comes different mining villages within 30 kilometers of Roșia. But it was also an extraordinary chance to connect with some of the most engaged young people in the country. We'll definitely be back: Mona Nicoară was made an offer she couldn't refuse - she was asked to program the film section of next year's FânFest.