Alexandru Belk on Metronome: I did not plan a history lesson and did not intend to make a nostalgia movie (interview)

Alexandru Belk: I’m very excited about Free Europe and especially Cornel Chirac’s Metronom show. At first I wanted to make a documentary about Cornel Chirac. But through all my research on Cornel Chiriac, I have retained the title of the show, its ambiance, and what it means to freedom Cornel brought to the people of Romania. I turned to fantasy and made a movie with teens.

Vasily Damian: It’s not just about the music and the show. What drew you to Ceausescu’s past?

AB: I think it attracted me because it wasn’t really Ceausescu’s past. It was a time of little openness. It was a period that came after 1968. Well, it came after the July 1971 theses, but it hasn’t come into play yet. People didn’t really know about them. It was a false opening to the West and had no Ceausescu charge of socialism. I didn’t plan to shoot a movie about communism. I tried to make a movie about communist teens, living a false freedom, the freedom they had from the music that Cornell broadcasted on Radio Free Europe’s Metronom program.

VD: you are young I lived only 8-9 years in the era of Ceausescu. How did you trust yourself? What is the work behind this movie?

AB: I started with the Cornel Chiriac security file. There were three, not one. Then there were his parents’ files. Then I dug deeper. I went to the files of those involved, who suffered from sending letters or who won some competition in Free Europe and got some recordings in return and suffered because of it. I got to the metronome at Club A. I spoke to people who knew him. I spoke with Mircea Odrisco, who has written two books about him. They were schoolmates and good friends. I talked a lot with Liviu Tofan, who opened many doors for me, especially in CNSAS and access to information and files. I also spoke to Mircea Florian, whose music was shared in the film. I went to some discussions with him and he told me a lot about his experience from the ’70s. Live as a budding artist, being very young, he had a song on Radio Romania put in by Cornell without publishers’ consent. It is called the sound of sheep. The song was a parody of the system, where sheep were humans and wolves were the chiefs. Only vocals and guitar were played. It was like a poem. I wanted to use it in the movie, but in the end I couldn’t find its place. But there are people who lived very intensely. Somehow I managed to get my energy out of them. I have not given up my training as a documentary filmmaker. I still feel like I made a documentary, but I didn’t make a documentary. It was my research work. I really enjoy searching. I like history. I really enjoy sitting in the office and studying. I’m more of a nerd than I am now. This is how it all began. I said I knew a little about communism. I lived in communism in the eighties. They were ugly. They were black. It was gray. But I’ve been reading far too much and came alone, and said to tell a story with my mind today, Today’s Card, using today’s youth, trying to respect history as best we can.

VD: You spoke of your “experience” in communism, but all or most of the actors except Vlad Ivanov are young people. I think most of them were born after 1990.

AB: Most of them were born after the year 2000. It was very interesting because for them the history of communism is a small part of the timeline of history. But the work was so much fun because it was an exchange. They were so excited, they were ecstatic with everything that meant the time, especially the visuals, a phone with a dial, uniforms, records, a number plate, a binding in the school workshop, and slides. When they first came to the set, I told them to look and take their time. They walked like a museum. They were taking books from the library. They took the slides, looked at them. They were playing on the phone. They were demonstrating with a phone tablet. They were asking how it works. Some knew, some did not. It was interesting. In a way they introduced me to the world of the seventies, and they introduced me to their world of teenagers and young adults. It was an exchange. I guided them in one direction, suggested a few things to them, and helped me get to those things by putting their energy, feeling, emotions, and feelings into the characters. Somehow I made characters with them.

VD: I took this movie in two ways. On the one hand, nostalgia speaks to me a lot, the atmosphere, the music, the show, but also as a history lesson. I’m wrong?

AB: I didn’t start a history lesson, nor did I plan to make a nostalgic movie. I don’t live in those times, and I don’t feel nostalgic, but perhaps I developed nostalgia by reading a lot about that period, documenting myself, listening to music, and reading literature from that period. I may have made some kind of impression on myself as if I was living through the period I am conveying in the film. I learned this from how my information is sorted and how it is sorted.

VD: How did you come up with the idea to put a few scenes in the film from the 1972 US Davis Cup Final and Romania?

AB: When I read about the time period and choosing the moment to tell the story, I thought from the start that I wanted to make a movie that condensed into one day, a maximum of two days, into 48 hours. I was looking for an event to stick with, something that would have been important so that I could somehow justify my choice so that I could keep this movie in 48 hours and be something very well-rounded and connected, to be the core of a historical event that would sustain the movie and create its honesty. I found the Davis Cup Final.

VD: To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting to hear more music in the movie. Sure, we’ve been listening to The Doors for 9 minutes. We are reminded of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles. Why do I make these choices? Why this music and not others? Do young people today still listen to Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Janis Joplin?

AB: Today’s youth listen to playlists, not albums. Sure, they don’t listen to The Doors, but it is interesting that today’s youth listen to music from the late 80’s to the 90’s. It sounds like old music, but it’s good and high quality music. This is how modern music works, when you say antique, I listen to old fashioned music. I listened to the music when I wrote the scenes. It was very important to block my music in some scenes since the time of writing. It gave me energy when I was writing and I said this song. It was Janis Joplin’s scene, the Doors scene. Those were some of the main points of the movie, some very strong pillars and I tried to use the frame music and the atmosphere and the drama as well at the same time. To use it to tell feelings. It is set at a certain point. It is chosen to act at a particular moment in the film, to have dramatic value, and heighten the tension of the characters and the film.

VD: I made the choice and wanted to know why, in a somewhat unusual format, 4/3, if I’m not mistaken and shoot with some tools, with some cameras from that era, is that right?

AB: In fact, I shot in a format similar to the 35mm film that was used in filmmaking in the 1970s. I used modern equipment. We used the latest camera technology, but we used old lenses from the 70s. We tried to create the atmosphere of those years with every possible element, with the scene, with the costumes, with the image, with the grain of the image, with the color palette, with the way it was lit, through make-up, through hairstyles. We paid attention to every detail. That’s why I used this format, which sounds funky, but makes you think of ’70s movies and it works really well. When you’re making a character movie, when you watch a girl who’s holding the entire movie for you and you don’t have a frame without her and you go to the foreground, a tall square shape works better than a rectangular format that tells a lot of landscape and less character. This is more crowded, more closed. It brings you closer to the character.

VD: What do you want the world to remember after watching this movie?

AB: What matters is how I get out of this movie. I can not guess that. I definitely think it’s a mixture of nostalgia. People who have seen it before feel they need to take a night to digest so they can tell stories about the movie or form an opinion.

Leave a Comment