Panaji: “For 20 years, they, the family with nine children, lived in harmony amidst nature, in a place which was long-forgotten though it was close to the city. But fate had some other plans when the Romanian authorities initiated steps to award protection status to that area. My documentary Acasa – My Home portrays the journey of this family, who were forced to adopt city life after eviction from their cocoon in the wilderness. Being a journalist, I could have just made a report on them but instead, we followed their dramatic journey for four years and made this documentary.” These were the words of Romanian Director Radu Ciorniciuc on how the IFFI 51 film Acasa – My Home came to life. Radu Ciorniciuc was addressing a press conference today, January 21, 2021, at the 51st International Film Festival of India, in Panaji, Goa. The film, shot in Finland, Germany and Romania has found a place in the Special Screening section of the festival.
Ciorniciuc revealed the string of events which culminated in the making of the documentary: “The Romanian government was about to give protection status to an area which was considered as landfill, in a city close to the capital Bucharest. The move was made as the scientists found out that there was an incredible delicate ecosystem in the middle of this green space, and some of the rarest birds, animals and plants of Europe were found there.”
How come the family was found there? As per Radu, once he and screenwriter Lina Vdovii decided to make a report on the decision of the government, they visited the place to get a first-hand understanding of the situation. What awaited them was a surprise. “A family of nine children was living there, isolated from the outside world for the last 20 years. There, we were fascinated by the harmonious relationship the children had with nature and we decided to do further research and not confine our project to a news report.”
Describing the whirlwind journey that followed, Radu added: “We spent the next four years following this family and in their dramatic journey from living in the wilderness to adopting to the life in the big city in the capital.”
Adding further, Radu said, “We could have made an exotic tabloid story out of this but that could have harmed the family, rather than drawing attention to the issues they were facing.”
Radu said he would like to dedicate the film to Gică Enache, who passed away recently, and the main real-life character based on whom the documentary has been made.
Screenwriter, Lina Vdovi, also a journalist, said, “We realized this story was a lot bigger than any TV reportage or long-form article I had written before. That’s when we decided to stop on this family and follow their journey. The writing process in documentaries may be different, but I’m in awe with the work involved in this film.”
“We fell in love with the Enache family, their naiveté, optimism and innocence. They reminded us of our own childhood and how we grew up surrounded by nature and the deep connection we had with nature around us.”
Adding to this Radu said, “After making this film, we too decided to move out of the city, that’s how the movie has had an impact on our life as well.”
While asked about finding balance between journalism and film making, Rado observed: “These professions are quite complementary. I realised a while ago that truth can have different forms. There is a journalistic truth and a more dramatic truth which is something we think we have achieved through our documentary. Filmmaking opened up a world of so many possibilities for telling life, the truth, which is amazing. We have tried to keep this documentary as real as possible,” he said. According to Radu, this project was an escape from the complexities of the journalistic profession, something which they were longing for years.
When making a documentary on such a journey, that it’s not unusual to have real-time challenges. “The challenge was that we had to keep just a very small crew to reach out and develop a connection and intimacy with the family; a bigger crew would have spoiled the production.”
The documentary made its official entry to some of the renowned film festivals worldwide including Zürich Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival.
Director Radu Ciorniciuc has co-founded the first independent media organization in Romania – Casa Jurnalistului in 2012, a community of reporters specialized in in-depth, long-form and multimedia reporting. He has been working as a long-form writer and undercover investigative reporter. His researches are focused on human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues across the globe. His work was published by most of the major international media organizations in the world: The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, Channel 4 News. He is also a recipient of many national and international awards.
About Acasa –My Home
For the last two decades, the Enache family lived in the Bucharest’s Delta, an immense green space in which wildlife has become a rare urban ecosystem. Following the rhythm of the seasons, they live a simple life isolated from society. But their peace is soon to be over: no longer able to escape social services and pressured by the municipality, they are forced to move to the city and learn to conform to the rules of society.