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Categories: Movie Reviews

The Minority Movie…

A film is mainly visual. However, dialogue and sound play an integral part. This film is delivered with dialogue in a non-existant language. At least oficially. It is a movie about nonexistent people. The actors come from the same group as the dialogue so, officially they don’t exist either. Therefore, am I writing about a non-existant movie?

Its title is I’m not Famous, but I’m Aromanian (2013, Romania, director: Toma Enache). Aromanians are a relic ethnic group living in the Balkans. They were instrumental, together with the Jews, in spreading modernity in that area. They speak a Neo Latin language, similar but not identical with Romanian. In fact, Aromanian and Romanian have more differences between them than Irish and Scottish Gaelic.

Aromanians are unlucky enough to reside in a place notorious for intolerance to tolerance. Only Macedonia recognizes them as a community. The other states expect them to disappear into the majority. They aren’t going to but the policies of forced assimilation are taking their toll: fewer then 50,000 fluent speakers still exist. Paradoxicaly, since two decades ago they are experiencing a cultural revival.

The director, Toma Enache is an actor, theatre director, poet, radio anchor and Aromanian. He endeavored to make a film spoken in his mother tongue. The precedent dates back to 1908. At the time the Aromanian Manakia brothers, from a remote hamlet of the Pindus Mountains, called Abdela, are credited for introducing cinema in this part of the Ottoman Empire. They produced silent shorts,  Nickleodeon style.

The budget of the film (360,000 Euros) came through public subscription. The Aromanian community of Romania mobilised thus producing thousands of financiers. The money insured professional equipment and post-production. A major distributor (MediaPro Distribution) spread the product in all the mall theatre chains. It premiered on October 23rd and reached all cinemas in November.

The cast is made of a Neo-realistic mix of professionals and amateurs. The bulk are Aromanians, living in Romania, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, completed with a few Romanian and Jewish Romanian actors that considered a challenge playing in a newly acquired language.

Critics will point out the mixed results, especially the very common mistake of wanting to tell everything with one film. Promising scenes, such as the meeting between the film director and the Aromanian policewoman, on an Albanian road, get a very dull treatment. The film is not that much a movie but a continuous affirmation, a fact explainable for an ethnic group whose voice was silenced that many decades. There is a lot of talking (in Aromanian, alright!) and less pictures, while the principal photography is disappointing by never aiming higher than the average soap opera.

The partisans will emphasize the delicate issues addresed, manyfold against the prevailing macho mentality. Social problems such as prostitution in the ranks of Aromanian women or the community’s  responsability for the present situation are for the first time aknowledged. Its cultural importance cannot be stressed enough, making me end this report on a minority movie optimistically.

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Damian Cornel Horatiu graduated from at the Film Department of the “Babes-Bolyai” University from Cluj Napoca, Transilvania, Romania. He is also a graduate in Law and Journalism. Among his projects: The Contract (2009)- a fiction short, Boulevard of Labour (2009)- medium documentary and Evacuation (2010)- a documentary short. Now he is in the final stage of releasing his experimental film Element 1 (2013)- a fictional documentary distopia. He produced TV shows and wrote scripts.

Posted on Dec 4, 2013

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