#intothespotlight: fARAD Documentary Film Festival

This year's edition of fARAD Documentary Film Festival takes place between the 3rd and 8th of October. We really wanted to find out more about the people behind the festival, how did everything start, the challenges that fARAD has overpassed over the years and, of course, what are the most important things about this year's edition. Mona Nicoara, fARAD's artistic director will has answered all our questions!

Even since 2014, fARAD Documentary Film Festival has brought to the local audience recent documentary, hybrid and experimental films already acknowledged in major international festivals. How did the festival begin to take shape, in short?

Mona Nicoară: Arad city has a long film tradition, especially on experimental and documentary film, and a wonderful community born around this tradition: the kinema ikon group, active for half a century. But the Arad did not have a film festival. So in 2014 the local authorities – the City Hall and the Cultural Center of Arad – formed a partnership with FilmETC, the organization founded by Corina Şuteu together with Oana Radu and Mihai Chirilov, for bringing up a film festival in the city. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by FilmETC with whom I had already collaborated for Making Waves, the Romanian film festival in New York, as a programme curator. And 111Film came into the project on the production side.

Which are the main people who make this festival keep on going, year after year?

Mona Nicoară: We are a small team. We all work together when it comes to the general concept- Corina Şuteu, Mihai Chirilov (the artistic director of TIFF, from whom I learned a lot about film programming and the placement of a festival) and Oana Radu (who is also the general producer). The 111Film team, led by Eugen Lumezianu, has been doing the production work for five years, Mirona Radu has been in charge of the fARAD Laboratory for three years since we launched the lab, and Stefan Bradea is dealing with rights and print traffic. Locally, we have the support of the Cultural Center and the City Hall of Arad through Ramona Crețu and Dana Andreică with whom we work closely throughout the year, as well as the support of our colleagues from kinema ikon and CitiZenit Association, who have always helped us.

What were the challenges you have faced in the organizing process since the festival was born until its 5th edition?

Mona Nicoară: The first edition, although only two days and a half long, was the most difficult to organize: the local authorities had to renovate on a clock the Arta Cinema, an old cinema located in the center of Arad. On the last days before the festival, we worked side by side to solve various and unpredictable problems, from the sound system to curtains and heat and toilet paper at the bathroom. Now everything goes smoother, at least from this point of view.

How do you feel the festival has evolved since 2014?

Mona Nicoară: In addition to the fact that the festival has extended as a number of days and locations (two other cinema halls in Arad restored previously were added as festival locations) and as a number of screenings, the most significant and substantial change was adding the fARAD Laboratory three years ago, which is a kind of ‘greenhouse’, a safe place where documentary projects under development receive creative guidance from fellows and festival guests. Our model is the lab for editing and storytelling at Sundance Film Festival. The anti-model is any pitch or industry session where the focus is on financing and marketing ahead and not on enhancing the creative vision and artistic instincts of the author. Apart from this one, the festival also has a sound workshop led by the amazing Dana Bunescu – and this is a unique contribution to the industry because in Romania the film school focuses more on the image than the sound.

In 2018, fARAD takes place between 3rd and 8th of October, and this year’s main theme is Body/Soul. Which are the three highlights of this edition that should not be missed?

Mona Nicoară: First of all, the bold film signed by Adina Pintilie, Touch me not, winner of the Golden Bear, will open the festival. We also have several film premieres, such as Roll Red Roll (a thriller about the rapes from the American high-schools, launched this spring at Tribeca; the subject became even more relevant for everyone who saw the news regarding the Supreme Court and Trump), the brilliant Obscuro Barroco (an art film about the some metamorphosis in Rio de Janeiro, winner of the Teddy Award for LGTBQ films in Berlin), or the delicious The Artist and The Pervert (an intelligent documentary about love, music, collaboration and kinky stuff). Finally, the archive screening scheduled this year is Love Meetings, a documentary by Pier Paolo Pasolini about the views on sexuality and love in the early 60s Italy, which was chosen because of the strange matching with the current opinions in Romania.

Which are the special events prepared for this year?

Mona Nicoară: This year, we have a film preview, an event connected with the Centenary celebration. Actually, it is a debate about the current situation of art in our big Romania, with the participation of director Laurențiu Damian, critic and writer Mircea Mihăieș (former member of Ikon cinema), Călin Man (pastor of the group) and myself, coordinated by Corina Șuteu. As part of this preview, we have the screening of Licu: a Romanian story, about a centenary of survival, a film which is also part of the programme dedicated to people with blindness, a section present at fARAD every year.

Last but not least, the section for children, pupils, parents, and teachers brings in Romania the necessary film called Won’t you be my neighbor?, a film about emotional intelligence and the need of public support for educational projects.

What are the long-term plans of fARAD?

Mona Nicoară: We want fARAD to become a place where non-fictional films are seen as part of the cinematographic art, a diverse and ever-changing field. This is the main idea based on which the film selection is done every year, as well as the selection and planning of the fARAD lab. We are the only festival in the region which is programmatically focused on the form and this is a well-thought strategy, taking into consideration the new paths of the non-fictional films regarding the form, content, and cast.

How do you imagine the festival after another five editions?

Mona Nicoară: Bigger, but not too big… We hope to have an organic growth, as it was until now.

In 2018, fARAD takes place between 3rd and 8th of October, in Arad. You can find out more about this year’s editing from their official website or from their Facebook page.

An article by Romina Banu

English translation by Andreea Andrei & Andreea Toader

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