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Astra Film Festival

Interview with Dumitru Budrala

Over the past years, there has been an increase in the physical visibility of the Festival in the historical heart of the city. What is the meaning of this enhanced openness in the evolution of the Festival?

Dumitru Budrala: Starting with 2014, the festival has moved to venues in the city centre which are not actual cinema theatres, but we turn them into ones, making up for the lack of theatres in the city. Thus, the audience, among whom there are many guests from abroad coming to Sibiu for the first time,  are offered the opportunity to discover, on their journey from one venue to another, the charm of this city which was so praised by international media. With the desire to be as close to the audience as possible and relying on the power of documentary film to attract the more diverse audiences, we have brought to PiaĊ£a Mare (i.e.The Big  Square, the very centre of the city)  a new and attractive cinema format, for the first time in Romania. I am talking about a dome-theatre with a hemisphere-shape screen on which 360-degree films will be projected, an extraordinary experience that gives the audience the impression that they are themselves part of the film.

What are the strengths of the 2016 edition in your opinion?

Dumitru Budrala: One of the main attractions will be the dome-theatre, together with the VR cinema and webdoc area set up at Sala Thalia. Three names that outline the 2017 Oscar list of winners are found in the programme of the festival: Cristi Puiu with Sieranevada, Romania’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, Gianfranco Rosi with the documentary Fuocoammare, Italy’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, and, in a portrait programme, there’s Frederick Wiseman, who is going to receive an Oscar for his entire career stretching over five decades. Off-stage, I can tell you that the films of these directors were selected in the festival’s programme before they officially entered the 2017 Oscars race. Astra Film Junior, which is expected to exceed this year the 100,000 treshold in terms of spectators who have attended the events since 2009, has expanded its educational platform and, aside from the film selection, this year’s programme also includes documentary film trainings for teachers and high school students. Novel to the edition are the programmes DocumentaryTank@AFF and Romanian Docs In Progress, which bring to Sibiu promising filmmakers who get the chance to present and debate their projects. Just like every year, the strength is the film selection, about which you can read more in the pages of this magazine. Last but not least, I would like to remind you of the jury of experts, 12 of them, and the hundreds of professionals in the field invited to come to Sibiu.

We hope that during the seven days of the festival amounting to over 600 hours of screenings, the venues scattered over the historical centre of Sibiu will be a destination for more than 70.000 film enthusiasts of all ages, as it has regularly happened for 23 years at Astra Film Festival, Sibiu's very own film festival.

How would you describe Astra Film Festival 2016 in one sentence?

Dumitru Budrala: AFF Sibiu is Romania's most important documentary film festival, and has reached this honourable position through courage, vision, and an amazing audience.