I’ve seen several of the great films made by the directors of the New Romanian Cinema and it’s not a language I’m picking up. But yesterday when I shot Florin Serban, whose first feature, IF I WANT TO WHISTLE, I WHISTLE, is premiering in New York at FilmForum, he confirmed that I have heard one word correctly: the Romanians do say “merci”–but with a slight difference in pronunciation from the French. After his several repetitions of both versions, hearing no difference, I just nodded.
Florin’s film features riveting, raw performances by a first-time actor, George Pistereanu, (who reminds me of the late, charismatic Russian actor, Sergey Bodrov Jr.) and adolescent inmates who participated in an acting workshop that Florin held at a correctional facility. Deeply affected by the workshop, Florin has now opened an acting school in Bucharest.