Yesterday afternoon, Inimi cicatrizate (“Scarred Hearts”) premiered at the Film Festival Locarno in Switzerland. It is director Radu Jude’s fourth feature film and the adapted screenplay was based on Max Blecher’s 1937 novel with the same title. The movie delves into the world of a seaside sanatorium, presenting its patients’ life stories and the health and body practices of the time. According to a recent review from Ostrocines, “Jude does wonders bringing the story to life, and gives it a strange vitality, brightness and ostentatious-free elegance with the help of empathy and black comedy.” Right after the screening, a reviewer from Libération stated that Jude’s film presents a “happy solitude” in a “transparent world, where the game with death isn’t necessarily morbid” and the “[hospital] bed is the center of the world”.
Scarred Hearts stars Lucian Teodor Rus, Ivana Mladenovic, Ilinca Hărnuț, Șerban Pavlu, Alexandru Dabija and Fernando Klabin, and until we see it on the big screen, we’re taking a sneak peek backstage, through Silviu Gheție’s photographs. Gheție’s images all seem to belong to a single shot, whether they were taken on a film set or on the street. He’s been a unit still photographer for a plethora of Romanian movies: Legături bolnăvicioase (Love Sick), Boogie, Eu când vreau să fluier fluier (If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle), Loverboy, Vara s-a sfârșit (End of the Summer), Perfect sănătos (Perfectly Healthy), Un pas în urma serafimilor (One Step Behind The Seraphim), Toată lumea din familia noastră (Everybody in Our Family) and Aferim – the last two were both directed by Radu Jude. “I liked working on Scarred Hearts the best, especially because we had some really nice weather and we were near the sea, who’s always changing colors. It was my third collaboration with Radu Jude and the team, whom I already know so well. It felt as if I was vacationing with friends. You get to laugh a lot on Jude’s sets and the atmosphere is so cheerful and creative” said the Baia Mare photographer, whose work can be found in numerous Romanian and foreign publications.
“Unit still photography differs from every other type of photography, merely because it makes me be more prudent. I try not to get in the way of people, the audio engineers, operator, directors, and actors. I can bother all of them if I’m not careful”, explains Gheție about his profession. “Also, it differs because it’s a lot more work and it compels me to be more alert and to always look for circumstances rich with potential. Although they may look quite similar, the photographic language of unit still photography differs plenty from that of a movie. Many times, in a movie, a succession of shots can be very powerful; in photography, the same images can look very dull, simply because you freeze and condense time, whereas in a movie, it flows freely. This forces me to be very careful and to exploit every single photographic moment I am presented with. Unit still photography gives you the chance to photograph a miniature world, where interesting things happen both in front and behind the camera. Here, life is in direct competition with the movies”.
The images Gheție took during the filming of Scarred Heats possess the photographer’s trademark: a melancholic comedy that he manages to spot even in the tiniest details of the way reality works. “I believe laughter is a form of freedom and self-deprecation is a sign of a healthy mind. In order to make the world laugh, you need to laugh at yourself. The moment we take ourselves too seriously, we risk becoming too stiff and uncreative. If I manage to steal a smile from someone, well, that’s my gift to them” says Gheție, whose photography constantly walks that fine line between fiction and the instruments that make it possible.
Translated from the Romanian by Cristina Costea