"Ubi Bene Ibi Patria" is a first-person railroad cinema verité documentary looking at transnational migration across Europe and the U.S., gravitating around past and present Romanian immigrant stories.
directed by Luiza Pârvu & Toma Peiu cinematography by Luiza Pârvu editing and sound design by Luiza Pârvu location soundby Toma Peiu produced by Toma Peiu & Luiza Pârvu
Building on a tradition which includes Ross McElwee’s "Sherman’s March" and "Bright Leaves" or Agnes Varda’s "Beaches of Agnes" and "The Gleaners and I", "Ubi Bene Ibi Patria" is a feature documentary, shaped as a personal quest. It aims at recording stories and capturing time capsules connecting past to present around a dilemma which doesn’t get any easier to solve: "how much is an individual’s identity influenced by their place of origin?" and "how does one reconcile their own aspirations with their cultural baggage and external constraints?".
Documenting characters as diverse as an elderly Romanian Jewish couple in Queens, NY, Romanians of various generations living in Italy, Spain, France and the U.K., and a family of third generation Americans in Wisconsin, the film zaps across space and time, introducing multiple episodic characters and discussing immigration stories from different generations and backgrounds.
Capturing a moment in time situated between the opening of an exhibition at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in May 2016 and the NYC Immigrant March in December 2017, "Ubi Bene Ibi Patria" juxtaposes present and memory. It incorporates a VHS tape of my 8th anniversary party; connects the dots between the Red Star Line Immigration Museum in Antwerp, Belgium with the story that inspired a short film I directed at NYU; traces down family genealogy and the significance of ethnic roots for the descendants of immigrant families in the US; and visits Northern England and Hadrian’s Wall in the wake of the Brexit vote. It is both an actualization of memory and a history-conscious view at the present, from a subjective point of view. Its making is prompted by an existential reaction to a turning point in my life – the hanging question of where I will eventually settle down at the end of graduate film school, and after my 30th anniversary – and the political dynamics of the world around me.
Weaving these stories and places together in a two-month trip across seven European countries, New York and Wisconsin, punctuated by 28 trains, six flights and one wrecked car, I try to find out for myself whether the everyday can tell us anything about where we are headed, and if storytelling – be it in history, literature, casual conversation or in cinema – could save society from a gloomy future.
Si Les Objets Pouvaient Parler / If Objects Could Speak
Short, documentary, 25 min
Objects in an antique shop in Québec tell a story about the present of artisan culture in the city and beyond. With humor and wit, the film travels from one workshop to another, in the quest for the forgotten tales of everyday items: from snowshoes to leather apparel and from license plates to violins.
directed by Luiza Pârvu & Toma Peiu written by Toma Peiu text by Joanie Lehoux & Toma Peiu cinematography by Luiza Pârvu editing & sound design by Luiza Pârvu sound mixing by Toma Peiu narrated by Joanie Lehoux
Produced by KINOMADA & Root Films
Si Les Objets Pouvaient Parler - Excerpt
Short, documentary, 34 min, 2017
The heart of a metropolis beats in its neighborhoods. Five communities reveal the other New York.
directed by Toma Peiu cinematography by Shan Jin, Toma Peiu, Luiza Pârvu editing and sound design by Luiza Pârvu produced by Toma Peiu & Luiza Pârvu
The civil society of the 21st century global city spend their everyday around neighborhood street corners, stores and public transit stops, outside the reach of mainstream media and show business. Rituals, routines and unexpected events woven into the fabric of the civilian experience reveal themselves to the attentive eye. Civilians is an exploration of life in the metropolis, framing everyday scenes in the streets of “the other New York”: a collection of communities whose specificity is challenged nowadays by advancing gentrification and changes in the city’s economic paradigm.
Two cooks prepare a tray of dim sum by a sidewalk window; mothers bid a long goodbye to their children, outside a parked school bus; a group of firefighters shop at a local supermarket; two elderly brothers sing in front of an audience for the first time; a father and son await the train home, the evening before Thanksgiving. In Civilians, a bricoleur looks at the public landscape and its inhabitants in melancholic “open window” frames unearthing the poetry hidden in the mundane of a contemporary American city, captured over one Thanksgiving week.
Produced by Root Films (Romania) and The New School University (USA)
Civilians (2017) Trailer
Short, experimental, documentary, 7 min, 2016
A visualization of Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus, through the lens of surveillance cameras around the world.
directed by Luiza Pârvu & Toma Peiu written by Toma Peiu adapted from The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus editing & sound design by Luiza Pârvu narration by Brett Stiller
Video surveillance has penetrated virtually every space inhabited by humans. Tragedies, excitement, catastrophes, moments of bliss and the everyday life of the common man are nowadays documented on an unprecedented scale. Countless hours are recorded daily in an endless narrative of the spectacle of human existence. The content is usually available to private eyes, and the universal meaning obscured by the apparent disconnect between the various individuals, spaces and activities recorded.
Made entirely out of surveillance footage available online, Sisyphus 2.0 is meant to mirror existentialist philosopher Albert Camus’ text, originally published in 1942, in present day’s reality. It is a bookmark we are trying to place, in an attempt to capture the particular mark of a certain moment in the evolution of the post-industrial era, doing our best not to obscure the timeless, tireless and resilient nature of the manifestations of the human spirit.
Produced by Root Films (Romania) & NYU Tisch School of the Arts (USA)
Short, documentary, experimental, 4 min, 2016
Arabidopsis thaliana juxtaposes the implications of injury, development and regeneration for plants, humans and cities, with a nod to one of the most popular plant model organisms in biology and genetics.
written & directed by Toma Peiu & Nicholas DelRose narrated by Selima Smith-Dell cinematography by Toma Peiu & Luiza Pârvu microscope imagery & graphics by Nicholas DelRose editing & sound design by Luiza Pârvu location sound by Toma Peiu produced by Nicholas DelRose, Toma Peiu, Luiza Pârvu
Research of Dr. Kenneth Birnbaum’s Lab
A Root Films production, for the Symbiosis Film Competition - Imagine Science Film Festival
Arabidopsis thaliana (2016)
O lume noua / Start Anew World
Short, fiction, 23 min, 2014
A short narrative film telling a story from a forgotten generation of Romanian US immigrants.
Pennsylvania, 1908. Romanian immigrant cobbler Petru greets his cousin's wife Ana in their New World home, with silent affection. Before he wins her heart, however, he needs to break a piece of news that will change her for good.
directed by Luiza Pârvu written by Toma Peiu cinematography by Shan Jin production design by Lulu Petrescu, Adriana Răcășan, Erin Vassilopoulos edited by Luiza Pârvu, Tudor D. Popescu sound design by Laura Lăzărescu-Thois composer Grigore Leșe producers Toma Peiu, Luiza Pârvu, Adriana Răcășan, Andras Muhi, Gabor Ferenczy, Mihai Penișoară
Root Films (RO) / Focus Fox (HU) / Penproduction.ro (RO) / DaKino Productions (RO) / NYU Tisch (US)
Romania – Hungary – USA, 2014
O lume nouă | Start Anew World
Short, fiction, 14 min, 2014
Teenager Alma visits the abandoned house of her late grandparents, in search for an answer to a complicated question.
directed by Luiza Pârvu written by Luiza Pârvu, Toma Peiu cinematography by Eduard Pârvu location sound by Toma Peiu editing & sound design by Răzvan Ilinca production design by Luiza Pârvu, Toma Peiu executive producers Eduard Pârvu, Luiza Pârvu, Toma Peiu
Introducing Andreea Diaconița – Alma
Produced by UNATC “I.L. Caragiale” Bucharest
Short, fiction, 12 min, 2014
A homeless young woman accidentally breaks into a lone man's house, unwillingly becoming part of an unexpected personal quest with a twist, engineered by an unseen friend.
directed by Luiza Pârvu written by Toma Peiu, Luiza Pârvu cinematography by James K. Ferguson production design by Luiza Pârvu, Toma Peiu edited by Luiza Pârvu sound design by Luiza Pârvu executive producers Toma Peiu, Luiza Pârvu
Produced by Root Films (Romania) & NYU Tisch School of the Arts (USA)
Short, fiction, 19 min, 2013
Security guard Iulia, interior decorator Andi and English language teacher Ana are bound by a series of decisions that could change their lives forever. Each of them depends on the others' actions. Each one of them gets to care for and needs to be taken care of. Transparent windows are not necessarily see-through.
directed by Luiza Pârvu written by Toma Peiu cinematography by Andrei Goagă production design by Lulu Petrescu edited by Letiţia Ştefănescu sound design byLaura Lăzărescu composerFrancesco Agnello executive producerGabi Suciu
Produced by UNATC "I.L. Caragiale", Bucharest, Romania
My Baby (2013) Trailer
Short, fiction, 24 min, 2011
Two young actors, Olimpia and Edi, meet in an Irish Pub downtown Bucharest and start rehearsing for their next short film. Waiting for the director, who never shows up, they walk around the shooting locations. While discovering their characters and talking about how they would like the movie to end, they discover themselves and the complicated feelings that they experience.
written & directed by Luiza Pârvu co-written by Toma Peiu cinematography by Mihai Marius Apopei edited by Letitia Stefanescu
Adina tries to make a birthday for herself, but this is no easy task for a lonely bus ticket saleswoman, living alone in the old apartment of her late parents. She eventually finds an unusual way of spending the day, when she decides to call a professional party entertainer agency.
directed by Luiza Pârvu written by Luiza Pârvu, Toma Peiu cinematography by Andrei Goagă edited by Letiția Ștefănescu sound design by Tudor D. Popescu, Tudor Calnegru production design by Ana Cântabine trailer theme song by Mihai Dobre, Alex Pop
Vera vs Ursul de Biblioteca / Vera vs The Library Bear
Vera's continuous quest to find love in simple things around her leads to unpredictable consequences.
Short, fiction, 9 min, 2009
directed by Luiza Pârvu written by Luiza Pârvu, Raluca Manescu cinematography by Andrei Goaga location sound by Toma Peiu editing by Letitia Stefanescu sound mixing & design by Stefan Matei music composition by Ioana Tiberian executive producer Andrei Goaga
Cast Laura Ilie – Vera Conrad Mericoffer - The Boy Marina Neagu - The Girl Razvan Antonescu - Sergiu