Looking beyond the margins. Thomas Ciulei and the modernist narrative practices



This article explores Thomas Ciulei’s feature documentary films This is it (Asta e, 2001) and The Flower Bridge (Podul de flori, 2008). It analyses how the director uses diverse documentary styles and various narrative practices in order to explore the character’s world. Ciulei’s documentary universe revolves around people who find themselves in a precarious situation, leading a marginal existence, living their lives in forgotten places that have been condemned by the neoliberal new order to menial existences. The director uses a specific structure which privileges affective experience and contemplation, reflexivity and a poetics of revelation in order to put forward his argument — paradoxically, the characters who have accepted their menial, low payed positions, the ones who can make due with what nature and their own labour can provide are the ones who manage to dodge the dire effects of the modern capitalism transition. Ciulei uses pictorial imagery in order to generate new ways of investigating the stillness of the marginal world, while also using observational techniques where the historical reality reveals itself to him and his camera. In the end, by blending different narrative and documentary styles, the director helps viewers develop a deeper relation with the world he documents, granting us gratification by the comprehension of the fable through parametric filmic techniques that comment on the marginal’s world — hardship of living bears down on people, but a certain security and community unity exists within these hardships.

Keywords: art cinema narration, parametric narration, pictorialism, observational documentary, precariat, Romanian transition, modernism

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.27.7