SOLDIERS. STORY FROM FERENTARI. (SOLDATII. POVESTE DIN FERENTARI) DISC D: Ivana Mladenovic. Romania/Serbia/Belgium. 119 min. Sep 10, 4:15 pm, Scotiabank 10 Sep 11, 9:30 pm, Scotiabank 8 Sep 16, 9 am, Scotiabank 10. Rating: NNNN
Director Mladenovic makes a confident debut with this absorbing, intimate drama about two unlikely lovers in the eponymous Roma-populated Bucharest ghetto.
Adi (Adrian Schiop, who also wrote the autobiographical script) is a thin, unkempt, near-middle-age PhD student who moves to the Ferentari to study manele music – “Gypsy pop.” Alberto (Vasile Pavel-Digudai) is a gregarious, bear-like Roma ex-con who works for the local gangster and at first helps Adi out with research.
Mladenovic develops their relationship carefully – Adi’s tentative watchfulness says as much as Alberto’s passionate outbursts and pleas for money and sex. You get a sense of the homophobia and other limitations within the disenfranchised culture. But you also see the discrimination the Roma face, such as when Adi’s friend says, with Alberto there, “Who’d let a gypsy in their home?”
Clear-eyed and never sentimental, and featuring naturalistic performances by several non-professionals, this fascinating film carries the stamp of authenticity.