Last year we had the honor of presenting Our School in the Romanian film festival in New York at the Walter Reade Theater, on the Romania's national day. Director Mona Nicoara, who lives in New York, had been attending the festival for many years. It is by far the most exciting and innovative Romanian cultural event in the city, with a fantastic audience, outstanding industry presence, excellent press coverage from the NYTimes to the Village Voice, and, last but not least, a great line-up of New Wave movies curated by a team of Lincoln Center Film Society and Transylvania International Film Festival programmers.
Recently, the Romanian Cultural Institute, which until last year funded the event, has fallen victim to political changes and culture wars raging back in Bucharest. You can find a good overview of the situation published by New York Times earlier this summer here. Since then, the Institute's programs for the remainder of this year have been defunded, its leadership replaced with throwbacks to Communist-era ideologues, and its mission changed to, for instance, producing a series of documentaries called "Treasures of the Carpathians." Just today, the newly appointed head of the Institute announced in an interview that he wants to shift the focus from film and the arts to promoting Romania's contributions to science and technology like the...radiator. It sounds funny, but for those of us who remember Romania before 1989, it is sadly familiar.
Luckily, the team who founded the festival is working hard to keep it going, with support from the Lincoln Center Film Society, private foundations, and Romanian artists. But they need to fill their budget gap through crowd funding. They just launched a Kickstarter campaign, which we supported by volunteering to produce the video below.
Please donate and spread the word. Every bit, from anywhere in the world, counts, and every supporter and gesture of solidarity is an important victory for Romanian artists and filmmakers, and for the dedicated New York audience of this festival. A dollar a day keeps the radiators away.