Ubi Bene Ibi Patria
Feature documentary - in post-production
"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 sound by 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.