INTERVIEW “Nice People”, the Romanian comedy that brings the current reality in the country to the screen: talking to Paul Negoescu, Iulian Postelnicu, Anghel Damian and Crina Semciuc

Director Paul Negoescu (“Two Lotuses”) releases the film “Nice People” on 25 November in cinemas across the country. On this occasion, the Playtech editorial staff talked to the director and to the Romanian film’s protagonists, Iulian Postelnicu, Anghel Damian and Crina Semciuc.

The action of the film presents a village policeman (Iulian Postelnicu), in his late 40s, trying to build a modest and comfortable life, but past mistakes and a series of violent events that happen in the village push him towards a no-win situation.

Director

Ozana: What does a Romanian film need to have to attract viewers?

Paul Negoescu: Any film, in order to attract viewers, needs visibility and good word of mouth. And to have visibility, you need either a solid (and well-funded) promotion campaign or promotion from well-known online personalities. Of course, to get the word out that the film is good, then the film has to appeal to the audience or challenge them in an unexpected way.

Ozana: What should viewers know about your film before they see it and how do you want Romanian audiences to perceive and receive the film “Nice People”?

Paul Negoescu: I think it would be good if they don’t have any preconceptions when they go into the movie and then I think the movie will grab them and keep their attention until the end.

Paul Negoescu

Ozana: For every director, every film I guess means something. What does “Nice People” mean to you?

Paul Negoescu: From a professional point of view, it was a unique experience for me to direct a screenplay that was not written by me, in an unusual universe for me – the story taking place in the countryside, in the north of Moldova, while I was born and raised in Bucharest, without having had any relationship with life in the countryside, much less with Moldova.

Ozana: If you can tell us, what is your next film project?

Paul Negoescu: We’re already in production on a sequel to Two Lots, which we hope to release next year.

Actors

Ozana: What can you tell us about your character? What did you learn from him, do you identify with him?

Iulian Postelnicu: Elijah was woe to his mother. A man in a situation you want to run away from. Maybe that’s what I should learn. But it seems to me there’s no point in me telling about him, I still can’t replace watching the film, and everyone makes their own impressions anyway.

Iulian Postelnicu

Anghel Damian: I identify with Vali up to a point. I think we have in common a desire to do things right, to change the environment in which we work, to try to move away from the corrupt habits of a communist past. The way we do this separates us, he slightly more naive and supremely self-sacrificing, I more realistic and less personally damaging. Vali’s courage is an attribute I crave.

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Crina Semciuc: Cristina is an extremely strong woman who finds herself at a crossroads, but finds the inner strength to move forward. And, yes, there have been times in my life when I stumbled, but I didn’t give up – I think this is where I meet the character of Cristina.

Ozana: How did you prepare for the role?

Iulian Postelnicu: I read the story as a news report and tried to understand what happened to the man, what he did and why. And I told the story further.

Anghel Damian: Preparation is always in several stages. From understanding the story and breaking down the situations and the text to actually working on set. A character is composed both in “working with oneself”, but most often together with the director. Paul was instrumental in making Vali complete.

Crina Semciuc

Crina Semciuc: I tried to understand Cristina, to understand where this strength comes from, this courage to fight, to not give up. I asked myself many questions about her life, and I searched for answers. This helped me to get to know her in depth.

Ozana: Are there Romanian myths in the film?

Iulian Postelnicu: The film is a fictional story that does not appeal to myths. But perhaps, for Ilie, the “orderliness”, his desire to have a quiet, somehow traditional life, may seem like something out of a story he would like to live beautifully. The character at one point sums up a short story from Romanian mythology, it’s a touching scene.

Anghel Damian: I think the most powerful storyline in the film is the generational struggle, the struggle between the old-communist mentality and the new generation’s mentality, expressed in the desire for change and the abandonment of rotten habits. Elijah makes this swing between worlds and we, the secondary characters, try to draw him to our side.

Crina Semciuc: I don’t feel the film is going in that direction. Paul, but also us, we tried to tell people’s lives as close to the truth as possible, but with a little bit of humour, to make it easier to follow.

Ozana: What does the film project “Nice People” mean to you and how would you like audiences to receive it?

Iulian Postelnicu: I’m proud of it and I want it to please whoever sees it. In other words, I invite you wholeheartedly to the cinema. And it’s a comedy, I forgot to say.

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Anghel Damian: In terms of language, it’s a unique project in the Romanian cinematographic landscape, a comedy/satire with dark and thriller accents, a hybrid that will open, I hope, a new direction in the local cinema. For me it’s a very good film and I’m very happy to have contributed to its making.

Crina Semciuc: I loved Cristina from the first reading, I enjoyed being part of her story. I felt like I had received a gift I had long wanted. I wish the audience would come in open, relaxed and see it as an experience. I look forward to seeing you in the cinema, enjoying, laughing and asking questions with us.

Ozana: Do you think your character is also real life? Where do we find him, in what poses?

Iulian Postelnicu: It seems to me that yes, and it seems to me that I myself am or often feel cowardly and misguided.

Anghel Damian: Vali starts from a common typology, namely Generation Z, in direct clash with the system. From here, I tried to customize it, to give it its own, personal direction. I think that Vali exists in all Romanian environments, you will recognize him on the one hand, but you will also know him on the other.

Crina Semciuc: Yes, I firmly believe that we have all been “it” at one time or another. Unfortunately, I’m sure we’ve all experienced abuse to a greater or lesser extent. Be it abuse of power at work, at school, at home, in traffic or on the street (the list goes on).

Ozana: If you can tell us, what is your next film project?

Iulian Postelnicu: I await proposals. Otherwise, I shot a bit for an HBO miniseries coming out in 2023, “Spy/Master”, spy story, cool (with Alec Secăreanu, Ana Ularu, Svenja Jung, Parker Sawyers and others). Tudor Giurgiu’s latest film, “Libertate”, will also be out in 2023, in which I also starred, because I wouldn’t say otherwise, and I also write from time to time with Leonid Doni for “Las Fierbinți”.

Anghel Damian: I’m currently “in” with the “Clan” series on ProTV. I write, direct, produce and my life revolves around this. I still exist in the theatre, privately and at the Comedy Theatre, and the little time I have left is for living.

Crina Semciuc: I don’t have anything for sure right now, it’s still a surprise to me too. As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know. But I can invite you to the theatre to see “Parents and Children”, directed by Vlad Massaci, and “Exile”, directed by Alexandra Badea, and to the cinema I am waiting for you during this period to see “Marocco” (directed by Emanuel Pârvu), and of course, from 25 November, to see “Good People”, directed by Paul Negoescu.

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