FILM: Romanian Wooden Churches

romanianwoodenchurchesRomanian Wooden Churches | Biserici de lemn din Romania (2016)
Nominated for BEST DOCUMENTARY and for BEST IMAGE at the SEEfest, 2016.
Director: Kiki Vasilescu
Producer: Cristina Lordache
Duration: 49 minutes
Genre: Documentary
Country: Romania
Language: Romanian

Stunning cinematography and fascinating interviews illuminate the history, architectural majesty and cultural significance of the many centuries-old wooden churches found in Romania.
The European heritage is made up from peasants’ crafts, decorations and architectural styles, too. The wooden churches are one of the most visible part of the peasants’ artistic and lifestyle trademark. This documentary explains the origins and evolution of this peculiar architecture, emphasizing the different traditions in construction techniques and decorations that differentiate an otherwise coherent lifestyle of the lower social stratum in pre-modern Romania.
Nominated for BEST DOCUMENTARY and for BEST IMAGE at the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles, 2016.
The documentary presents the wooden churches from Romania – buildings with a high value in terms of national and European architecture and history. The documentary focuses less on religious aspects, but mainly on churches’ history, architectural types, their liaison with the community and eco-system.
To connect the old and sometimes forgotten churches with the present, the documentary also presents the surroundings and the communities living around these churches.
The documentary has a dynamic cut, making use of the aerial shooting and hand-shot images. To illustrate the architecture details and construction phases, animated cartoons were used.
To fill in the images, we interviewed professionals around the churches: priests, local government, architects and historians.
Some of the elements which appear in the documentary:
– the reason behind building in wood is somehow lost in history – some say there was a law, back in 18th century, when the Romanians were not allowed to build in anything else but wood. Other say that, given the nearby mountains, wood was an affordable material.
-the entire church was build in wood – even the nails and the lock
-the churches used to travel from place to place – this was either because the community was moving around (because of the weather, mainly), or because the community changes and they wanted a bigger church. In this case, they would sell the old one to another community
-churches were mainly build on the highest point in the area, and this is why now they still have a beautiful scenery around.
-some of the churches have beautiful towers; their hight was settled by the community economical power and its wish to be “better” than the other communities around them.
– all the churches have beautiful painting (some of it missing), but also beautiful wood carving. The decorations are different from region to region
-to build a church, there was an entire circle – the trees were only cut in a specific period of time and then everything was done by hand by local craftsmen.

UNESCO: Wooden Churches of Maramureş

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