Interview Mihaela Poenaru

  • For the less informed audience, what does a movie scenographer do?  

The movie scenographer must never be confused with the script writer, as it often happens, especially when you bring into discussion a less informed audience. The script writer writes the story of the movie, the scenographer receives the script and tries to visualize the places in which the characters develop their actions, that is to say the movie backgrounds that he will later build. At the same time, the discussion with the director is very important, as he is the one that will thoroughly explain every character’s way of being; this character’s way of being must be found in the places he lives in, in the places where he moves; the background elements must speak about the character and help define / create him.

Many times I wished that the script should appear in a totally different structure than the written one, to come as radio theatre, because all visual elements are more easily built when you hear voices and you build your characters. I started my education in a period where radio theatre represented an escape from reality, and I find this radio theatre exercise as being very constructive and creative; it stimulates your imagination a lot. Reading the script is nothing compared to this experiment.

  • The movie’s story seems to be timeless. What was the creative direction that you followed for the scenography?

Timeless… we decided not to choose objects that specifically talk about a certain period of time.

Every period of time has a defining touch, but also has a baggage from its significant past / history. In all art history we tried creating a clear time period positioning; but what do we do about the personal baggage that define us? They exist in every different period of time; I think they are called shades and talk about personal inheritances. It is more important what we tried to avoid doing: position the movie in a certain period of time, without taking into account the character’s identity. We chose to keep the shades and a place that talks more about the characters, about their inheritances, about their baggage. Even today there are people who live in an anachronistic manner, surrounded by elements that have a meaning for them, without being connected to any objective reality. In a way I am the same, refusing to line up with last generation technique. This movie suited me!

  • Tell me about how you prepared for this movie, details about your contribution.

I should have started going to the gym long before the movie’s prospects. While in the prospects, I barely caught my breath to be able to mount the paths that Florin chose in the search of the right clearing. There were many narrow paths and searches on the mountain until we decided on the movie location. 

My contribution… this is not something to think about and quantify, I cannot do that, I never thought this way, it’s difficult for me. I liked talking to Florin and working together with him, I liked the opinion exchange and I loved the result. Mostly it’s his credit; I brought in a little of my architect training regarding the construction of the house, finding it, moving it from Retezat, finishing it according to the director’s demands; and maybe the administration of the builders’ team that worked in drastic conditions, on the mountain. And gathering information – an episode that mustn’t be absent from research, that is essential!

  • Which are the few objects that you would keep in a suggestive photo about this movie with Irina and Simion?

I am very attached to all the images in the movie, to the entire movie! I would put them all, in this order: the donkey, Baby the dog, the cigarette box, the stockings, the polenta.