Think of making two movies at the same time.
Bogdan George Appetri, a Romanian-born, New York-based director, did what he did during the creation of “Miracle”, which starred in a feature film competition at the Zurich Film Festival after its world premiere in Venice last week.
Filmed in Romania, “Miracle” is the second part of a trilogy of films written and directed by Apatri, and was recently picked up by Memento International. The first part, “Unknown”, won a special jury award at the Warsaw Film Festival in 2020.
Both are self-contained stories, but with many features of the same character and depicted in and around the same Romanian city. “We literally shot three days in one movie, two days in the other,” Appetri said. “Some days we shot ‘unknown’ until lunch, and then we shot ‘miracle’ – or vice versa.”
It was an insane and intense, 40-day experience, said Appetri, who also teaches film management at Columbia University in New York. “Our DOP Oleg Mutu was awesome. He said he would never do it again. But I think he secretly enjoyed it!
Both films have received brilliant reviews. Yet they are very different stylistically, and so will the third, who is currently writing Apatri.
“Miracle” is a crime drama that is created slowly and intensely over a period of more than 42 hours, lasting one hour and 53 minutes. It is the story of a young woman who rushes out of a convent early in the morning and takes a cab to a hospital in a small Romanian town. When he fails to return in the evening, a police inspector is hired to investigate and recover his actions – and does so with increasing obsession.
Apatri describes it as a two-chapter movie. The first half follows the young woman, while the second sees the inspector follow her steps through the same places.
“It’s like a mirror structure,” he explains. “Two halves that seem unconnected. But as you go inside, you find deeper and deeper connections.
Connections may not necessarily be the points of a particular story, they may be words, the way the camera moves, or the way each character shows up in a particular place. “If you put the pictures side by side, they look at each other so it creates a kind of internal connection between them. And, of course, it’s supported by plot. It’s not just some artistic way of connecting. Plot-based and story-based, It’s very simple. I was trying to go deep, not wide. “
Some have put the film in the context of a new wave of Romanian cinema, citing its long time, realistic environment and the underlying criticism of the country’s corruption.
Although Romanian is a fan of the new wave, Appetry takes the film away from it. As far as I’m concerned, ‘Miracle’ has nothing to do with Romanian cinema. “It was used for a long time because he wanted to make the movie that way, not because he wanted to adhere to a certain filmmaking philosophy. To appreciate the finish, you have to feel the weight of time, the way time passes,” he said.
In the end, any sense of reality explodes as the meaning of the film’s title becomes clear. “It’s almost going against Romanian cinema, which depends on reality,” Appetri said.