Marseille-based Films de Force Majeure has boarded “Blue Banks,” the buzzy feature debut from Romania’s Andreea Cristina Borțun, whose latest short film “When Night Meets Dawn” premiered in the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight section, Variety can reveal.
Pic is the story of a single mother trying to raise her son in a poor Romanian village who’s forced to leave him behind when she gets a job in Marseille. While she’s away, he’s left with a sea of possibilities trying to figure out who he can become.
Borțun described her first feature as “a world of contrasts, where the old and the new, the natural and the man-made sometimes absurdly overlap.”
” ‘Blue Banks’ is a chronicle, told over four seasons, about a young mother’s ambition to live her life according to her own dreams. However her dreams are neither precise, nor great. They are mostly cursory and inappropriate, tailored by the aspirations of her own very poor community,” she said. “The story is set in Blue Banks, a village that represents a world in itself. Though apparently the seasons are the only ones changing, the scenery and people’s lives are affected by the passing of time and the subtle changes migrants bring back home with them.”
She added: “Nature and the changing rhythms of the weather create colors and textures for an atmospheric film that challenges the viewer in a visceral way and shows the humanity of this community.”
“Blue Banks,” which last year took part in the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Co-Production Market and won the Transilvania Pitch Stop Award at the Transilvania Film Festival, is produced by Gabi Suciu of Bucharest-based Atelier de Film.
“We met Andreea Borțun via European Short Pitch a few years ago and our paths crossed again when she was location scouting in Marseille for ‘Blue Banks’ in 2019,” said Films de Force Majeure’s Jean-Laurent Csinidis and Jerome Nunes, who will be applying to CNC Cinemas du Monde in the coming months and are hoping bring a French distributor on board soon.
“When she told us about the project, we were gripped and eager to read the script: the story and her approach seemed completely unique to us. The draft we read was subtle, moving and dense, with nuances that are essential when it comes to social realism. We could feel the many years of research on the rural territory she describes, processed by the depth and the humanity of Andreea’s vision.”
“After an extensive research done in the past years on the female identities in the underrepresented south of Romania, we are highly enthusiastic to start pre-production on a film that shows a tender and humanistic view on a woman’s struggle to ground her life,” said Suciu. “Set in an ignored region of the Balkans, this is for the Western eye a glimpse in the Eastern migrant’s home showing their tough life, but highly spirited personalities. ‘Blue Banks’ puts the spot on a current topic dealing with the aftermath of an age of severe work migration and showing the immigrant as an individual with origins and a struggling community, but not solely in despair.”
Films de Force Majeure’s credits include Diane Sara Bouzgarrou and Thomas Jenkoe’s “The Last Hillbilly,” which premiered in Cannes’ Acid sidebar in 2020 and received a special jury mention at IDFA, and Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal’s Syrian civil war documentary “Still Recording,” which won the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week prize in 2018.