(Romania 2010; Dir: Mona Vatamanu, Florin Tudor)

Rite of Spring

Youth playing with fire in a decaying city

review by Ricardo Brunn

Rite of Spring

length: 28

year of production: 2010

country of production: Romania

director: Mona Vatamanu, Florin Tudor

festivals: 64. Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen

© images: Rite of Spring (Mona Vatamanu, Florin Tudor)

Poplum floats through the streets, is whirled up by the wind, finally collects on the curb in dense clouds. Suddenly he catches fire, chases flames over the bushy white, extinguishes it before it can completely calm down. In the following shots it becomes clear that it is children and young people who set the poplar wool on fire again and again.

Shot on Super8 material, the amateur-like images evoke memories of one's own childhood, the time lost strolling around and losing oneself in the same things, life in an intermediate stage behind the gentle veil of childish ignorance. And just as memory often consists only of images, this eight-minute film is also silent, giving the images a greater weight, allowing us to merge into it and forget ourselves and everything else.

"Rite of Spring" lends duration to a fleeting moment through repetition, but as beautiful as the scenes are to be seen at first glance, there is a certain violence in them that consists in not showing. Thus the children remain isolated, are viewed from an elevated perspective, whereby a social environment, a horizon (also in almost square picture format) cannot be seen and thus brought into consciousness. Once the camera shows a building, dilapidated, unfinished or destroyed. But the eye quickly turns away again, suppresses, fades out.

Hope and destruction lie close together in "Rite of Spring". We watch a seemingly homeless youth burning something germinating, fleeting. The destructive character of what is shown and the ghosts of the past shining through in the material as well as hinted at post-communist transformation processes meet the desire to find stability and reliability in repetition, i.e. the ritual. The fact that the 64th Oberhausen Short Film Festival opened with this film of all films, which conjures up spring and shows a ritual that thinks and questions stability, stagnation and hope together, is a clear statement by the festival organizers. Oberhausen has established itself in the old, in the tradition of its own radicalism, but that's what it's all about: continuing and igniting little flames again and again. Hope that spring will become a real summer.

This review was previously published in German on FilmGazette.de.