MAIA – PORTRAIT WITH HANDS 1999-1905

Director
Alexandra Gulea

Producer
Ana Maria Pirvan
anamaria@anchorfilms.ro
+40743011360

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Budget
Total Budget             €300.000
Confirmed Budget   €198.000

Synopsis
My paternal grandmother, A. G., (whose name I inherited) dies at 93, in an apartment on the boulevard formerly called Victoria Socialismului (Victory of Socialism) in 1999. Her journey as an Aromanian woman spans the 20th century. Her personal destiny and the march of history force her to cross the Balkans with her minority group of nomadic shepherds; Bucharest, Mogoșoaia, Kogălniceanu (România), Ciuban Cuius (Southern Dobruja – Bulgaria), Katerini and Paticina (Ottoman Macedonia) are places where she starts over each time.

Her birth, in 1905, lies under the pall of the murder of her father – a fighter for the preservation of the Aromanian dialect in schools and churches – by Greek guerrillas wanting to purge the region of non-Greeks. That is probably why the girl, now an orphan, would only speak in dialect for the rest of her life, as she could only bond with her origins through the dialect inherited from those murdered for having affirmed their identity. Speaking in dialect becomes on the one hand an act of resistance, on the other an indelible connection to her small people.

The drama of her life is the death of her children. She goes into deep depression, loses weight, her skin turns ashen, she stops speaking, she wants to die. Of the six children she gives birth to, only two survive. She mourns the four dead children with whispered cradle songs, when she is alone in the house, while her husband is away in Communist prisons – a murmur no one can hear …

As the story is told retroactively, from death to birth, spooling back the thread of the 20th century, the historical events which decide individual destinies seem indifferent to individual reality. The closer you examine your past and its characters, so familiar to you – by gathering the details, dramatic events or small joys which make up a life, mapping out family trees, seeing before your eyes the grandparents’ laundry frozen on the line, their prescription glasses held together with wire – the more your own existence becomes fiction, much like an object which disappears when seen through a magnifying glass.

The portrait of this anonymous woman, apparently as hard as stone, becomes a prototype of the Aromanian woman migrating throughout last century. In a period when nations and national conscience are forming, the Aromanian minority cannot find its place; the only territory it can keep is that of language. At the heart of the film lies a reflection on memory, on recollection, on the past reflected into the present tense. The baggage passed down between generations is interrogated and distanced, which makes a personal, family story become generally applicable.

History with a capital H, told through personal history. To what extent is collective drama stronger when compared to individual drama?

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