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The Chalice. Of Sons And Daughters

Traditional Roma-communities of Romania are culturally rich communities, ruled with complicated rituals and customs. Marriage is maybe the most set in stone such custom, with everything about it being under very strict community control. What keeps everyone alert is Roma marriage’s highest stake: fertility and conceiving boys. 

O TAHTAI. SAVENDAR TAI SEIANDAR

Romania | 2022 | 83 min

PRODUCTION: Catalina Tesar – Erakli Film; Dana Bunescu – Fundația Arte Vizuale

SCREENPLAY: Catalina Tesar

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Catalina Tesar, Catalin Musat, Ileana Szasz

EDITING: Ciprian Cimpoi, Dana Bunescu

SOUND: Dana Bunescu

Synopsis

The Chalice dives us into the lives of Peli and Nina, a couple married by arrangement and parents to a little girl. Their existence is under intense scrutiny as local custom imposes that the couple conceive a boy for their marriage to survive. Only a boy can later inherit the family’s chalice (tahtai), a badge of great symbolic and financial value. This puts young Nina under considerable pressure, but nobody around her sympathises with her plight.

Filmmakers Catalina Tesar and Dana Bunescu embarked on the project after Tesar spent years studying the Roma community for her PhD research. Having won their trust in the process, Tesar is allowed to bring in cameras to record their everyday lives. Generously repaying its viewers for choosing to watch it, this documentary is an empathic observation of how little freedom these people have in choosing how to live their lives.

Saturday 26.11. / 15:00h / ZAAL 4

Sunday 27.11. / 10:45h / ZAAL 4

The screening will be followed by Q&A with director Catalina Tesar.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Sarajevo Film Festival, 2022 – Documentary Competition | Astra Film Festival, 2022 – Best Romanian Documentary

Directors’ bios

Catalina Tesar is lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology University of Bucharest and researcher at the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest. She has a PhD in anthropology from the University College London, with a thesis about the economic, sexual and political dimensions of arranged marriages among Transylvanian Roma. This documentary is based on her PhD research. Catalina received a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Wenner-Gren Foundation to help filming on The Chalice. 

Dana Bunescu is an extraordinary editor and sound designer whose work has been undoubtedly instrumental for the New Romanian Cinema of the past 20 years. She is the receiver of a Silver Bear Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution in Film Editing at the 67th edition of the Berlinale International Film. She is also the co-director of the documentaries The Distance Between Me and Me with Mona Nicoara and Evropa with Razvan Radulescu.