Artă (Art) – Venice 71 Orizzonti

A sharp reenacted mockumentary by Adrian Sitaru, that watches from a humorous perspective the rightfulness to abuse people for the sake of art.

Art (Artă) - Poster

Adrian Sitaru is one of the prominent members of the Romanian New Wave. During his career he has been mainly focused towards short films, his most successful being Waves (Valuri, 2007). His first appearance in Venice was with his first feature Hooked (Pescuit Sportive, 2008) which participated in Venice Days. Sitaru returns to Venice with a short film entitled Art (Artă) which participates in the Orizzonti – Short Films Competition.

The film opens with a casting interview where the director Emi (Emanuel Parvu) and his casting director Andrei (Andrei Rus) are watching Anca (Iulia Crisan), a 13-year-old girl, performing the role of an underage prostitute. Along with them sits her mother (Ioana Steam) who has strong objections towards the nature of the film and her daughter’s role in it. Emi and Andrei must use any possible way in order to persuade her that her concerns are totally wrong since their film is art and “where there’s art, there’s no obscenity”.

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Sitaru created one sublimely sharp almost personal film that could slightly considered as a reenacted mockumentary. Being also the scriptwriter, he based his story on his own discussions for his upcoming film Fixeur which is dealing with trafficking and prostitution of minors. During these discussions the director questioned where art ends and where the real abuse starts. He also tried to find what are the limits between filming the reality and the real pornography and if the moral issues should be placed beneath the artistic creation. In Art he still has the same serious concerns but his approach is quite amusingly lightweight.

Emi and Andrei are using the most provocative and even unconventional methods to persuade the mother. On one hand they mention films like Nymphomaniac, Taxi Driver, or even Empire of the Senses as innocent examples where pornography is considered art. On the other hand they use the vanity’s power – Anca could become immortal – of a possible Cannes or Oscar award as a way to get a positive answer. Their methods clearly prove that even in art-house cinema you can still be the same ruthless person as in any other job. The theory that art could sanctify everything it is once again proven a myth. There are no moral rules when you need to do your business and Sitaru is just depicting that. Everybody seems innocent and guilty at the same time and equally responsible for each decision. Emi is just trying to do his artistic social awareness job, the mother wants to protect her daughter and Anca thinks of her future career. You can’t really blame anyone.

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Since Art is a highly self-referential film it creates unavoidably a peculiar and humorous subconscious vicious cycle of manipulation. The audience is manipulated by Sitaru in order to watch how the fictional artists manipulate their fictional heroes who in their case are just illustrating how manipulating the reality could theoretically be. What is more interesting is that this whole procedure is carried along with simple and natural dialogues that with no exaggerations are presenting this provoking and disturbing truth in the most ordinary almost theatrical way. With that in mind Sitaru is balancing between reality and fantasy as he usually does in his films. He will go even further by touching the edges of surrealism with his finale.

Adrian Sitaru has the talent to encapsulate in a short film all the behind-the-scenes ethical issues that could evoke in a director’s mind. Also by exposing his own concerns and fears he also exposes how counterfeit is the innocence that protects his cinema. Art is not trying to solve the existing problems and evidently the initial question on the rightfulness to abuse people for your art remains unanswered.

Originally published: Nisimazine

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