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Autor: Edna Fainaru

With five films to his credit since 1989, Mircea Daneliuc is by far the most prolific filmmaker in Romania today. Having established himself as one of the countryţs leading directors, he had to contend - at least while Ceausescu was in power -with an iron-fisted regime which left him no alternative but to use allegories to describe the reality around him.

Since the change of regime, Daneliuc has radically changed his view, reaching a degree of virulence which seems to have earned him more than a few enemies at home. And indeed, it seems that with every new film of his, the opinions of the Romanian media are ever more divided between those who consider him an irresponsible critic of and those who -feel he documents the facts as they are.

The argument erupted with renewed vigour when Daneliucţs Cannes entry, Senatorul Melcilor [Snails for the Senator), was released in Bucharest and again when the film was selected for Cannes (although strangely enough it was rejected by Berlin this year). Daneliuc himself declined to make any more statements to the press about his film. "The film should speak for itself," he said. The one thing he did specify earlier is that he had chosen the snails as the senatorţs dish because he felt that Romania is moving forward at a snailţs pace.

In Senatorul Melcilor, Daneliuc pursues his frontal attack on the state of things at home. Once again, this is a fierce political satire. The film revolves around a new type of political hero, this time a senator from the capital city who visits a forgotten village at the other end of the country to open a new hydraulic power station which, according to his flowery and bombastic prose, will put Romania technologically on par with the West, while simultaneously showing the national concern for safe, clean energy.

Daneliucţs sense of humour, bent on escalating everyday occurrences into hallucinatory ironies, is blacker than black. While there is no visible narrative link between his last three films, it appears that The Conjugal Bed, Aceasta Lehamite and now Snails for the Senator now form trilogy portraying the state of things in post-Ceausescu Romania. But while some of the critics wonder if this is the way they want their country portrayed, others rush to Daneliucţs defence, quoting Picassoţs answer when attacked for painting Guernica the way he did. "I did not paint this," he answered, "the Germans did."


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