Short Sounds: Silent Romanian Documentary

Bucharest Hours. Urban documentary (1942)

Photo credits: The National Film Archive

silent film, unedited footage, runtime: 61 minutes
music: Simina Oprescu

Bucharest Hours (Witold Klimowicz, 1942)

Only specialized dictionaries still recall the name of Polish documentary filmmaker Witold Klimowicz, who came to Romania seeking shelter from the early horrors of the Second World War. Once employed at the National Office of Cinematography, Klimowicz would collaborate with Paul Călinescu (“How is a Film Piece Made?”, 1940) and oversee the first steps of young filmmaker Victor Iliu.
Commenced in September ’42 and resumed later for technical reasons, “Bucharest Hours” was intended to embody the urban symphony of a supple and chic Bucharest so as to draw attention away from the war. As it stands today, the film is, above all, the shooting journal of a most eager filmmaker. As Klimowicz never managed to carry out his project, the footage stored at the National Film Archive includes shaky frames, retakes, landscapes captured in multiple takes, “duplicates”, as it were, and others. It is by fortune alone that those of us today can witness the film in its unpolished form, partly because it grants us more of its charming images before which we can never deem ourselves satiated. Let him who does not behold longingly the promise of early buildings, the folk loitering around pools, the adornments of the masses on boulevards, the carefree day-to-day spent in cafés, step forward. Every so often, we must all partake in such opium. As this Bucharest never existed in effect, but was edited to appear thus. This is, in part, why we’re fortunate that its retakes and duplicates are on display. Not only are the vistas of the University and the Roman Square anthological, but also, or above all, the boy who stumbles into frame and forces the operator to shield the lens with the palm of his hand. (Călin Boto)

Simina Oprescu (b. 1993) is a sound, video and mixed media artist. In the last 4 years she dedicated most of her research to sound and composition. She graduated the Dynamic Image and Photography Department at the Bucharest National University of Arts and studied for one year in the department of acousmatic composition at the Royal Conservatory of Mons, Belgium. Using various instruments, sound objects and digital programs for sound exploration her live shows are always unique and complex. She is an increasingly visible presence on Romanian electronic music scene, as well as abroad, taking part to many festivals (Simultan Festival, Timișoara, 2020; musikprotokoll, Austria, 2020; Sonica, Slovenia, 2020 & 2019; POCHEN Biennale, Germany, 2019; Rokolectiv, Bucharest, 2020 & 2019 etc.), public events (Post Muzica, 2019; Sâmbăta Sonoră, 2018; Intersections, 2018) and residencies (Sonic Future / SEMI SILENT & Jumătatea Plină NGO, 2019). In 2020 she has been nominated by Cynetart Festival as SHAPE alumni artist – Platform for Innovative Music and Audiovisual Art from Europe. Simina Oprescu composed the music for the 1929 silent documentary “Drăguș – The Life of a Romanian Village” in the frame of the Possible Sounds of Early Cinema project (Image and Sound, 2020), being nominated for the Découvertes Pierre Schaeffer Prize at the Phonurgia Nova Festival (France, 2020). She received the Grand Prix Nova – Short Forms Category prize for the song “Drip Drop” (SEMI SILENT, 2019), and the Jury Prize at the Inner Sound New Arts Festival (Bucharest, 2018).

As a consequence of the contractual requirements imposed by the Romanian Film Centerwe separated the video and the audio sources. The developed automatic system synchronizing the applications used may cause small delays due to your internet provider and devices (desktop, phone, etc.).