When I want to Whistle, I whistle

Florin Serban's movie "If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle")  won the Grand Prize of the Jury and the Alfred Bauer award for new movie perspective, at the 60th edition of the Berlin Film Festival. The movie is based on a play with the same title by Andrea Valeanu, which will have a reading at the Romanian Culture Center in New York and a bare bone production at the Lark Theater in New York in April.   Legendary director Roman Polanski was part of the same competition and won the Silver Bear for Best Director for „The Ghost Writer.” The Golden Bear was given to Turkish film "Honey" by Semih Kaplanoglu. The jury was lead by German director Werner Herzog and included actress Renee Zellweger.

How  did Manhattan, the US and the years at Columbia shape you as a film director?

 I decided to study in the US while I was still in Film School in Romania. This is like learning a foreign language: you need to get there to master it. Is the same with film. For me, it was a must to study film in the US. This doesn't mean it has to be like this for every filmmaker, but for me it was like this.  NY and Columbia are a big chapter in my life. Academically speaking but not only. New York is the best place to be if you want to watch movies, films from all over the world, from different periods and tendencies, etc. The access to information is amazing. This definitely broaden my horizons. Beside that, Columbia is a great school and I learned a great deal, especially in the realm where I was "suffering" meaning screenwriting. What Americans are best at in films is telling stories. This is the most valuable lesson: the importance to tell a story that has to emotionally involve the audience. It might sound like a truism, but it is a lesson that you have to learn by making mistakes. If it just comes in a book has no meaning or value.

Will your film appeal to a mainstream American audience?

This is hard to tell. I certainly hope so, but I am not kidding anybody, myself included, that it will be a box-office hit. I did this movie thinking at the Romanian audience first. The American mainstream... I think, if they would have the chance to actually see the movie, they would like it.

What types and genre of movies do you want to make in the future?

I don't think at movies in terms of genres. I think putting a label is far too restrictive and for me is like placing a living body in a coffin. The separation between commercial movies and art-house doesn't really hold water for me. There are two types of movies for me good ones and bad ones, and they can come from any genre, commercial or art-house alike. I want to tell the story of a hitman in my next movie, the story of an impossible love in the one after it, maybe a movie that takes place in the ancient world...

Will your film be presented at Tribeca or anywhere in New York? What kind of distribution deals you have far?

In New York for sure. In December during a Romanian Cinema Week and maybe sooner at Columbia.  At this point we decided to pursue the Toronto Film Festival, not Tribeca.  Afterwards we'll see...

"When I want to whistle, I whistle" is already on my Netflix cue, and is awaiting US distribution.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Interview by Alexandra Ares