Romanian cultural festival set for Edinburgh

Summerhall will host some of the Romanian cultural festival's key events. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Summerhall will host some of the Romanian cultural festival's key events. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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IT is a country which is perhaps best known for its links to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and gory vampire stories.

But now, Romanians want to show off the wide cultural spectrum of the eastern European nation through a series of events in Scotland.

The week-long Romanian Cultural Days festival, which is to take place in Edinburgh from Saturday, will showcase Romanian film, music - both classical and contemporary - and literature.

The festival mimics a series of events which take place in Romanian towns and cities every year to celebrate traditional culture, dance and music.

Curator and arts impresario Richard Demarco, who launched the Western careers of legions of extraordinary Eastern European artists, is to open the vaults of his collection housed at Summerhall for an initiation into modern Romanian visual culture, which will include work from artists such as Paul Neagu, Horia Bernea, Ion Bitan and Ovidiu Maitec.

A Romanian themed club night will also take place at Summerhall, including samples of Romanian food and wine, while author Dan Lungu, the creator of Romania’s biggest international literary festival, FILIT, is to speak to James Meek, the winner of the 2015 Orwell Prize for political writing, about chronicling the complicated passage of a society from the abyss of the dictatorial decades, to the uncertainties of today.

Dorian Branea, director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, which has organised the festival, said: “The programme is built in such a way to show a lot of the favourites of our contempoary culture. It is the biggest celebration of Romanian culture we have done in Scotland.”

He added: “We want to speak about cultural Romania, about wonderful Romania and amazing Romania.”

The Edinburgh Filmhouse is to screen a selection of Romanian cinema as part of the event, while a play, ‘A Woman for All Seasons’, performed by the National Theatre from the Romanian capital Bucharest, will tell the story of Anita Nandriș’s memoirs of her forced deportation to Siberia during World War II,

Edinburgh-based director and author Mark Cousins, who created the selection of Romanian films to be shown at the Filmhouse, said: “The main reason to see Romanian films is that they are so good. Recently they’ve won prizes in Cannes, Berlin, but there were wonderful filmmakers in the 1970s, for example, too. The films are gems.

“Mainstream films can seem so formulaic. The Romanian films I’ve selected are wide ranging and surprising. There’s a wry comedy, an innovative film directed by a woman, Malvina Ursianu, and a gorgeous animation which tells the history of humanity in just a few minutes.”

He said that Scots should also use the selection of Romanian films, which includes 1970s Romanian classic Stone Wedding and the award-winning The Death of Mr Lazarescu, to gain an insight into the culture of the thousands of Romanians living in Scotland.

He added: “A second reason to see films from Romania is that there are now thousands on Romanians living in Scotland. Film is a brilliant window on a world. It helps us understand and get to know our neighbours.”

The Romanian Cultural Days festival will run from 10 to 17 October. A full programme is available at: