But will Gopo glow translate at local B.O.?

Even by the sexy standards of European film, the 2010 Gopo Awards, Romania’s version of the Oscars held on March 29, was conspicuously glamorous.

Attended by a who’s who of local stars in Bucharest’s ornate parliament palace, the awards gala was broadcast live over one national station, one international network, Internet webcast and Radio Romania Cultural.

Romanians are hoping the four year old awards can help goose box office for local pics, just as the Oscars often provide a boost for prize-winning pics.

“The main inspiration behind the Gopo was to get more spotlight on local films here in Romania,” says Tudor Giurgiu, Romanian filmmaker and President of the Romanian Film Promotion Association.

Like in many European markets, there is a huge gap between imported Hollywood blockbusters and Romanian-made releases. The top Romanian-made film of 2009, “Tales from the Golden Age,” earned only 26,520 admissions in a country of 21 million people.

The awards organizers believe the live broadcast reached millions of Romanians at home and abroad, with 5,000 watching the webcast.

But the question remains: how will this interest impact the Romanian box office?

Director Corneliu Porumboiu, whose 2009 film “Police, Adjective” won six Gopos, including best picture, admitted his film, already broadcast on TV and over the Internet, has probably reached its potential audience.

“Those who were interested in watching [my movie] have seen it a long time ago,” says Porumboiu.

Payback is also unclear to film maker Alex Nanau, whose HBO-produced documentary “The World According to Ion B.” won best doc.

“It is hard to see commercial success flowing from [my award] since no Romanian newspaper wrote about the film other than to mention that it won,” says Nanau.

But Tudor Giurgiu, film promotion president, said there is no doubt the awards will boost Romanian film, although it may take “years.”

The Gopos will make “audiences … more interested to look for a good Romanian film, and filmmakers will be happy to get this industry recognition,” Giurgiu says.

Filmmaker Nanau raised a concern. Domestic films, he said, aren’t taken seriously until “they get recognition out of the country.” Hence, the kudos may be shining a light on the wrong audience.

Not everyone agrees. But the local industry is attempting to increase international exposure to its films with an expansion of the Transilvanian International Film Festival, which is introducing Romanian films to foreign critics, distributors, and festival organizers.

And organizers hope the publicity surrounding the Gopos is being heard abroad.

Past guests of the awards have included Cannes film festival director Thierry Fremaux. Porumboiu was surprised that “There were friends from foreign countries who called me after I received the awards.”

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