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Songs From the Backyard

The film depicts glimpses from a penitentiary center, seen from the eyes of Gheorghita, an honest, hard-working inmate, who’s spirit is kept alive by the promise of returning back to his family.


Shot in a cinéma verité style, a group of students make a film in Botosani penitentiary. They start to follow Gheorghita, a worker from the kitchen. He is working hard to gain the trust of the guards and to blend in with his fellow inmates. As the students get closer to him, they realise how the environment ends up shaping the identity of the individual.


Romania | 2022 | 27 min


PRODUCTION: UNATC, Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jan Phillip Ernsting

SOUND: Iulian Cristian Nunu, Lisa Wischer

SCREENING: Friday 25 November / 15:00h / Zaal 4 & Sunday 27 November / 11:00h / Zaal 5

The screening on Sunday 27th will be followed by a Q&A with the director Letitia Popa. Dutch Premiere

Director’s statement

My film was developed through the filmic field research, “With the head through the wall”, in collaboration between National University of Theatre and Film I.L. Caragiale and Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf in Botosani Petitionary, North of Romania. The film has never had a complete form up until this year, when I felt the impulse to finish a story that has never fairly received an ending. The events of the film have sat with me 4 years after the happenings in Botosani. Up to this day, I am aware that what has happened back then has changed the way I see filmmaking and the way I relate to the world. I chose Gheorghita as our main protagonist after a long prospecting stage. He seemed to stand out compared to all the others. Slowly, we learned many things about him, his regrets and his desires. We easily connected to him and his urge to tell his story, and most importantly, we were very touched by what we were witnessing. To this day, he still didn’t return back to that world and he seems to be on the process of rehabilitation, creating a normal life for himself and his family.

Director’s bio

Letitia Popa is a film director based in Bucharest, Romania. She is an alumnus of National University of Theatre and Film I.L. Caragiale, with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and TV Directing, and a Master’s in Documentary Directing. During 2020-2021, she participated in a one-year exchange program in Belgium, at Kask and Conservatory / School of Arts Gent, working on her Master project. Letitia’s films explore small and intimate daily life universes, with a specific attentiveness to the inward.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Saratov Sufferings International Film Festival, 2022