Union of Cinematographers of the Republic of Moldova
The Moldavian Union of Cinematographers (MUC) was a professional association in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. The MUC was officially founded in October 1962 as a branch of the Union of Soviet Cinematographers with the aim of bringing together various professionals involved in film production (directors, screenplay writers, actors, etc.). In the immediate post-war period, there was no separate film-producing studio in the Moldavian SSR. The necessary technical and logistical facilities were temporarily borrowed from Kiev (1945–1947) and Odessa (1948–1952). In 1952, the Moldova-Film Studio (Studioul Moldova-Film) was created in Chișinău. Initially, it only produced documentary films and cinematic chronicles (kinokhronika). In January 1957, the studio was reorganised and expanded to produce feature films. Initially, it was staffed by cinematographers hailing from Russia and Ukraine, which explains why most movies were released in Russian. In fact, Russian remained the dominant language in Moldavian film-making until the 1970s. At the moment of its creation, the MUC included 31 members, with its membership growing significantly during the 1960s. This decade also marked a high point in the productivity and quality of the local filmmaking industry. One of the most important figures of the period was Mikhail Kalik, who developed a poetic, nostalgic style of his own (Kolybel’naia (Lullaby), 1960; Chelovek idet za solntsem / Omul merge după soare (Man Follows the Sun), 1961). Together with Vadim Derbenev (Poslednii mesiats oseni /Ultima lună de toamnă (The Last Month of Autumn), 1965, after Ion Druță), formerly an accomplished camera-man, Kalik became one of the leading directors of the Moldova-Film Studio. In the mid-1960s, the ambitious young director Emil Loteanu helped Moldavian cinema to further emancipate itself, introducing folklore-inspired plots, lavish shot compositions, and scores that drew on Gypsy music. Loteanu’s Krasnye poliany / Poienile roșii (Red Meadows, 1966) and Lautary/ Lăutarii (Fiddlers, 1972), filled with unbridled passion and beauty, marked a new level of national self-consciousness. Gor’kie zerna / Gustul pâinii (Bitter Grain / A Taste of Bread, 1966) by Valeriu Gajiu and Vadim Lysenko attempted an honest depiction of postwar problems and initially was praised for its unprecedented realism. This atmosphere of optimism and ambitious projects was reflected at the Second Congress of the MUC, held in December 1969. However, in the early 1970s, the political and cultural atmosphere in the MSSR became more oppressive, which led to the shelving of Gor’kie zerna and Kalik’s Liubit’ (To Love, 1968), and eventually to the departure of Loteanu, Derbenev, and Kalik. The complex events of the 1940s, portrayed in recently released movies, such as Gor’kie zerna, became a taboo, and the remaining Moldavian directors concentrated on less provocative topics, first and foremost the heroism of underground fighters in the Great Patriotic War, as well as more distant history in films such as Dimitrie Cantemir (1973). The latter production focuses on the figure of an early eighteenth-century Moldavian prince who, besides acquiring a Europe-wide reputation as a scholar and man of letters, was closely allied to Russia during Peter I’s Prut campaign (1711) and subsequently fled with the tsar’s retreating armies, remaining in honourable exile in Russia until his death. Cantemir was completely safe from an ideological point of view and thus acceptable to the Moldavian authorities. The decline in the local filmmaking industry was obvious between 1972 and 1986. This was due to the direct interference of the local Party leadership in this field. The Soviet Moldavian authorities attempted (and partly succeeded) in imposing strict ideological restrictions on the creativity of the film industry. In fact, due to the mass impact of cinema, the ideological constraints were much tighter than in the case of literary activities or theatre performances. The MUC only regained an autonomous voice during the Perestroika period, which was obvious starting from the Fifth Congress in April 1986 and, increasingly, throughout 1987 and 1988. Its members became quite vocal in matters relating to ecology and environmental protection and followed in the footsteps of their colleagues in the Moldavian Writers’ Union in advocating national-cultural rights and supporting the emerging national movement in 1988–1989. However, the MUC never regained the privileged status it enjoyed between 1962 and 1972, with many of its leading members, including Emil Loteanu, having left the MSSR for Moscow. In 1991, the MUC became an independent organisation and was renamed the Union of Cinematographers of Moldova (Uniunea Cineaștilor din Moldova). The local filmmaking industry entered a deep crisis after 1990, due to lack of funds and shortages of qualified personnel, from which it has yet to recover.
Chișinău Strada Pușkin 24, Moldova 2012
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- Cusco, Andrei
Rollberg, Peter. 2009. Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema. Lanham, Md. & Toronto: Scarecrow Press.
Negură, Petru, interview by Cusco, Andrei, November 02, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection