Short Sounds: Silent Romanian Documentary

Day by day. Actualities and documentaries (1897–1940)

Photo credits: The National Film Archive

silent films, shorts, runtime: 62 minutes
music: Makunouchi Bento

10 May 1897 (Paul Menu, 1897)
10 May 1912 (Constantin Theodorescu, 1912)
1 May 1914 (Constantin Ivanovici, 1914)
The Maglavit Marvel (Eftimie Vasilescu, 1935)
A High Life Wedding at Domnița Bălașa Church (Nicolae Barbelian, 1913)*
With the Ressels (Romanian National Film, 1916)
Students from Nicolae Filipescu Highschool Dine at Coșna Restaurant (Coșna Restaurant, 1936)*
New Year 1928 – Divine Service at the Romanian Patriarchy (“Cinecronica”, Iosif Bertok, 1928)*
The Unveiling of the Commemorative Plate at Someșeni Airport (Laszlo Fekete, Istvan Miskowszky, 1935)*
The Diamant Cyclist Race (Diamant Representation,1927)
8 June 1936 (Tudor Posmantir, 1936)
The Quake (Paul Călinescu, 1940)

*digitized for the first time

The “Day by day” selection ventures to reconcile private vices and public virtues. What should have been a collection of parades and official visitations shifted its trajectory, albeit not entirely, as soon as the small domestic film “With the Ressels”, also known as “Family Scenes” (1916), was shown to us. Ressel’s folks, the founder of the Romanian National Film, and their charming banter convinced us that the grand affairs of the agora, in the vein of “The Maglavit Marvel”, are not the only ones worthy of pursuit, but more so the events prior to, following, and surrounding them. In “A High Life Wedding at Domnița Bălașa Church” (1912) one finds glimpses of such concerns, for at no point is the actual ceremony displayed, but rather, as in the bourgeois catchphrase of the workers leaving the factory, the attendants getting out of the church and into their cars. Where to?
In 1936, “Students from Nicolae Filipescu Highschool Dine at Coșna Restaurant”. They had just walked the May 10 parade, the very same that Paul Menu shot in 1897 and Constantin Theodorescu in 1912. The boys are bid welcome by the restaurant owner; the promotional goals are made clear by the panoramic shots of waiters dressed up to the nines, to serve the uniforms of other upcoming May 10s.
Our ludic montage has its solemn moments, herein the two films that were unaired in their day – Tudor Posmantir’s “June 8 1936”, followed by Paul Călinescu’s “The Quake”. Posmantir was shooting the Restoration Day rallies at a gallery in Cotroceni. Folk dancing started off what we know today as the Cotroceni Catastrophe, when the better part of the surrounding galleries collapsed under the weight of the audience; naturally, the operator’s camera went blind. We’re well aware that Călinescu’s documentary on the 1940 earthquake cannot replace what might have been Postmantir’s footage, but if as little as a shiver can be felt, well, the memory of the two tragedies earns a new instant. (Călin Boto)

The Makunouchi Bento, or traditional Japanese lunchbox, is a highly lacquered wooden box divided into quadrants, each of which contains different delicacies. It is also one of the most familiar images of Japan’s domestic environment. Reading the box as both an object and a metaphor, Felix Petrescu (Waka X) and Valentin Toma (Toma Carnagiu, Qewza) founded this cinematic / experimental / electroacoustic project back in late 2000. The two have somehow managed to put together quite a reasonable discography so far: 5 albums and 4 personal compilations, a couple of OSTs, 26 EPs and 12 singles (released on netlabels you’d have heard of, back when that was a thing), a few live recordings, songs featured on more than 40 compilations, remixes and collabos with artists such as Selfmademusic, Silent Strike, Daniel Dorobanţu, Nagz, Kaneel, Tao, Adapt, Autorotation, Trompetre, and the list goes on. They’re both passionate cinephiles, so they seized each opportunity to write soundtracks (the non-imaginary ones include 1 feature film+1 short+1 animation+1 unborn videogame) and to perform live rescoring (people have been exposed to 3 films+1 documentary). But expect anything you’ve already heard before, and you’re in for a wee surprise.

As a consequence of the contractual requirements imposed by the Romanian Film Center we 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.).