As we reach the middle of October it is time to reveal which young filmmaker we believe deserves to be under the spotlight in our series that is taking us through the profiles of 10 young Filmmakers that have caught our eye with particular emphasis. This journey, all the way to next year’s edition of FEST – New Directors | New Films Festival, where we will be revealing the next crop of young visionary artists, is now stopping in Romania, where our October star is the new comer Ioana Mischie.
In an age where filmmaking is very much so at a cross road, with the industry in endless convulsion trying to catch up with these fast times, the crossover of styles and formats is slowly becoming the new norm. It is in this context that FEST – Pitching Forum’s participant Ioana Mischie stands out from the crowd. Her so far short yet impressive career reads easily as a story of how transmedia is increasingly becoming a valid alternative in the way artists express themselves in different audiovisual platforms. As those around her put it, she is somewhat of a “workshopaholic”, having taken advantage of the many forums available out there for young artists, in order to expand her vision and scope, which has progressively allowed her to claim her place in a sector which does not always welcome change.
“In 2010 I first heard about transmedia storytelling during a conference at the International Film Festival of Berlin…Since then, I have begun to explore its genealogy and axiology...I have documented conferences, labs and masterclasses on transmedia storytelling from Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Locarno. I completed my research with praxis works and started to create transmedia storytelling concepts and stories, that were selected to I_Doc 2014 (Switzerland), Cross Video Days 2014 (France) – the first European cross-media market, Dok Tank 2015 (Czech Republic), and The Steamer Salon 2016 (Israel)…It felt natural to continue this path and to go in-depth into researching it during my PhD studies at UNATC” – said the young Romanian.
"Between already and not yet"
In 2013, alongside a collegue, she created Storyscapes, the first transmedia organization in Romania. Under that structure she has been developing several different projects. “We have developed, so far, no/low-budget transmedia experiments and concepts, we have initiated transmedia workshops at festivals such as Transilvania Film Festival and Kinodiseea Play, we have interviewed international professionals and started a highly detailed research within this field”.
Perhaps her biggest success came with her “Tattoo Twists” project, a series focused on “a collection of eight character-driven documentaries exploring the intimate process of cover-up tattoos”, as she herself puts it. Her participation at Cross Video Days, was instrumental, as she got a chance to meet Adam Gee, a commissioner of UK’s Channel 4, who was seduced by her talents pretty much on the spot.
“Back then, the 4oD platform was redefining itself, and our project seemed to synchronize theme-wise with their strategy…A few weeks later, Adam wrote to us with a proposal to finance the linear segment of the project - a webseries about cover-up tattoos. It came as a pleasant surprise and we took the challenge…Immediately after launching it had a record of views in the UK. So then, it was followed by a second series, MST (My Secret Tattoo) that went just as well”.
The project itself is much deeper and ambitious that it may first appear. “In my view, cover up tattoos are a much wider metaphor for the way we lead our lives in an eclectic contemporary world. We are very often marked by internal tattoos and we share constant shifts in our lives. (The series) questions the concepts of memory, identity or self-evolution. It aims to tackle dilemmas such as permanency versus instant” – said she.
Her vast experience in several workshops where also the launching platform for one of her latest success', the short film “237 Years”, a comedic drama about a fraudulent group of small town villagers who get caught abusing the Romanian welfare system. After a premiere this summer at Palm Springs Film Festival, followed by screenings at several other events, such as FEST 2016, “237 Years” is much more then yet another film. The mutating path of the project is a great example of how this young filmmaker is not bound by conventional paths, and unafraid to turn an original idea into a much larger concept. Back in 2015 she won the first prize at our very own Fest – Pitching Forum, where she presented “237 Years” as a feature film project. You can imagine our surprise when less than a year later we witnessed a massive mutation.
“(The film) is an expanded fictional universe. Although the short film is an important first step, this is only the prologue for the much wider fictional universe…We wanted to test a fragment of the script, to improve it, to expand on it. Our resources were limited for the short, this is why it was conceived as a distinct piece in itself. At first we only perceived this experiment as a teaser that will never been shown outside the film’s cast&crew debates. However, we then decided to showcase it publicly in order to debate it, to have feedback, to expose it to fresh eyes, to explore additional layers of meaning. After experiencing this short film journey, we have a much more clearer view on how we want to continue - what will be changed and what will be intensified in the wider fictional world.”
Romanian cinema has been on a high for quite some time. The success of filmmakers such as Cristian Mungiu, Cristi Puiu or Radu Jude, among many others, has surely caught the attention of the film world, collecting awards in festivals across the planet and achieving considerable commercial success along the way. Some may believe this plays as an advantage to newcomers to the scene, while others are of the opinion that such high stakes compromise a renewel of ideas and people. Ioana’s view appears to be somewhere in the middle of these two perspectives: “I feel the previous success of Romanian cinema may make it both easier and more difficult simultaneously, depending on the situation… It may help because as Romanian young talent in an international environment, international professionals have already something to relate to… (on the other hand) It may also make it more difficult because the international and local expectations are getting higher and higher.”
Despite the general success of Romanian cinema, at a local level opportunities as are as scarce as everywhere else. “The tendency is not always to encourage young talents but to protect the already existing ones. I feel a more balanced policy would be to encourage both. There are many new talented Romanian filmmakers, highly thought-provoking stories, but very few experienced producers to truly embrace and protect them. Everything is becoming rather difficult every year, as we don't have yet a perfected funding system and a formal policy for debut filmmakers. There is one attempt now in progress, but we didn't test yet its functionality.” – she added.
Fortunately, the biggest talents tend to brave through their own path, regardless of the set of conditions presented to them, and Ioana Mischie’s is no exception. Her determination is intimidating, and her route is the proof that the beginning of a filmmaking carreer is not always linear, contrary to what we are so often led to believe. Despite her young age she has embarked on a journey through the few “cracks” that allow young artists to thrive. Her recent success is served as merely an appetizer of great things to come. As such there is little doubt that Ioana Mischie’s future work should be a priority under your radar.
Note: This profile was completed through a long interview covering many other themes that unfortunately are impossible to include in this short profile. A full version of the interview is now available on this link for those interested in finding more.