Opening 26 Nov 2009
Journalists and filmmakers drive into a drab, abandoned Romanian village inhabited by old women. They plan to tell the story of an event from 1953. Flash back to that time: the village is vibrant and colourful. The mayor tries to appease the Communist rulers but is largely ignored by the villagers. They are more interested in a visiting circus as well as the marriage of Mara and Iancu. The animals are slaughtered for the feast, the musicians are in place, and the bride is beautiful. Suddenly doom hits: Stalin has just died, and there is to be a week of mourning. The people – who, so far, have lived far from interfering politics – wait until sundown and move the wedding into a barn. There they say “I do,” toast each other, eat, and dance in perfect silence – a pantomime of a wedding. This puts an unnecessary strain on their basic cheerful personalities until they cannot contain it any longer and disaster strikes.
This is a first film for Romanian director Horatiu Malaele, although he is well-known in his country for his theater productions and illustrated cartoons. This is a good opportunity to view a black comedy from a corner of the world which isn’t often available to us. In past centuries this true story would have come down to us as a fairy tale where all the wicked witches and bad fairies (communism) would have joined forces to destroy the simple, well-meaning inhabitants of the castle (village). (Becky Tan)