To those who request the removal of the film "Arsenie. An Amazing Afterlife" by Alexandru Solomon from the Astra Film 2023 festival program
Astra Film Festival has a 30-year history in which freedom of expression has always been a fundamental principle. Astra Film Festival has never censored any point of view, and even less so any documentary film from the festival's selection. This is a non-negotiable principle. We strongly believe in an open society where one can freely discuss anything.
The request to remove a film from the festival, to prevent its distribution, constitutes censorship, is unconstitutional (see Article 29 regarding freedom of conscience and Article 30 regarding freedom of expression), and ultimately infringes on the right and freedom of the public to watch a documentary.
Astra Film Festival respects the viewpoints of those who criticize the film "Arsenie. An Amazing Afterlife." Everyone has the right to criticize anything, including a film in the festival's selection. That's why each film in the AFF program is followed by dialogues between filmmakers and the audience. Therefore, we will organize a debate after the screening of this film, to which we have invited representatives of the Metropolis of Transylvania.
Documentary films have this unique quality: they bring real issues and debates of people to the audience, expose them, and invite spectators to look at any subject from multiple perspectives. A documentary film reflects the values shared by its creators and often touches on very sensitive topics that can elicit very different reactions from the public. Which is a gain. We all desire an open society with free people from all points of view.This has been and continues to be the purpose and mission of the Astra Film Festival: to create a safe space where different approaches can meet, ideas can clash, not people, and where everyone can express their opinions in a civilized manner.
Demonstrating complete openness and strictly respecting freedom of expression, Astra Film Festival has never and will never undermine the values of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Ten years ago, we presented another film about Arsenie Boca, directed by Nicolae Mărgineanu, with a different perspective and approach, a production that was extraordinarily successful.
We note that things are already escalating excessively around this topic, which can lead to a situation where the evaluation of the film will no longer be related to what the director has accomplished; it will be merely a public scandal. And this is not in the interest of any responsible person. We appeal to wisdom.
For us, AFF2023 is an anniversary edition. And we make this appeal all the more. Let us not forget that we live in a city of culture, ethnic and religious pluralism, and pluralism of creation and interpretation. All of these are possible precisely out of respect for differences in interpretation and in respect for freedom of expression, belief, and artistic creation.