Romanian actor turns director: Horatiu Malaele

By Anca Paduraru
    Seasoned Romanian actor Horatiu Malaele had his feature film directorial debut in late November, with Silent Wedding opening to the general praise from local media.

    Malaele, an accomplished stage and film actor, had tried his hand at directing for stage. Film directing, however, he found to be much more difficult. "After having this experience, I will have more respect for the film directors I work with in the future," Malaele said at the film's first screening on November 18.

    Silent Wedding (Nunta muta www.nuntamuta.ro) was filmed on location near Bucharest, in 27 days and at scorchingly hot temperatures, during the summer of 2007. The €1.5 million budget was raised by the Castel Film, Agat Films & Cie (France), Samsa Films (Luxembourg), BV MCCann Erikson, and Realitatea Media. The National Center for the Film Industry put in €370,000 of the total, as Malaele's film competed in the 2006 selection for state-backed financial credit.

    Silent Wedding is the story of two young peasants' wedding that turns to tragedy, as the date set for the wedding coincided with the day Stalin died, with an order to abide by a seven-day mourning period, with all public display of joy forbidden. The decision to go ahead with the wedding, albeit in a silent way - with words whispered, laughs muffled, glasses wrapped in cloths, and cutlery removed to eat by hand - proved to be fatal, as the peasants could not contain their zest for life and joy for long and broke into wholeheartedly dance, song and laughter. The Russian military in the division stationed nearby moved in to arrest and execute all men in the community.

    Malaele proved to be an actors' director, with the whole cast perfectly orchestrated to set the scene and recreate the atmosphere of a village tranquil in its every day life scenes, with peasants working hard, but also playing hard and enjoying pulling jokes on one another, giving the viewer am even greater shock the brutality of the final outcome.

    Malaele also benefited from an all-stars cast, with the cameo appearances going to seasoned stage and screen actors. Malaele said he was lucky most of the actors came to support his first movie as friends and colleagues, and performing for smaller salaries. "I wouldn't have had the money to pay them otherwise," he added.

    Transylvania Film is the domestic distributor for the movie, and Bac Films handles international sales. In three weeks of screening on four screens, the movie is at number 12, with 9,300 admissions and box office of €28,700.