First of all, the mother
“First of all, Felicia”, the Romanian film signed – directing and scriptwriting – by Răzvan Rădulescu and Melissa de Raaf brings forth the story of a family in which a 19 years’ apart is concentrated in one single day. Ozana Oancea performs superbly in her first feature, and the film has had a well-deserved rich festival circuit.
Director: Răzvan Rădulescu & Melissa de Raaf
Scriptwriter: Răzvan Rădulescu & Melissa de Raaf
Cast: Ozana Oancea, Ileana Cernat, Vasile Mentzel
Produced by: Ada Solomon
Cinematography by: Tudor Lucaciu
Film editing by: Dana Bunescu
Category: feature film
Duration: 120 minutes
39,144 – Cinepub viewers
Felicia’s departure day (after the annual visit to her parents in Bucharest) is very tight: packing too late, an elaborate breakfast and the father’s fear that he will not live to see her again. On top, her sister calls to say she can’t drive her to the airport.
As the taxi drives through the jammed streets, Felicia and her mother realize they will never be in time for the flight.
While trying to rebook her ticket, Felicia is confronted with her two families, her ex-husband and her child in Holland & her father and sister in Bucharest. All these and the disrupted communication with her mother reveal the painful ordeal Felicia had to go through in the last 19 years of separation from her family.
„First of all, Felicia” is a “Romanian film in which Răzvan Rădulescu makes his debut in directing, along with his wife of Dutch origin, Melisaa De Raaf. The result fits the style of the New Wave Romanian films, where Răzvan Rădulescu has stood out as scriptwriter („The Death of Mr.Lăzărescu”, „The Paper Will Be Blue” and „Tuesday, After Christmas”).
Felicia seems to be the type of the independent woman who has longed for separation. Immigrated to the Netherlands, married to a Dutchman she has divorced in the meantime, but who has fathered her 11-year-old son, Marc, Felicia visits her family in Romania twice a year. Her mother seems to be fulfilling all her needs, especially the gastronomic ones. The atmosphere of the film is common in in New Wave of Romanian films with fixed frames, around the dinner table, with small talk that hides terrible tension.
A good share of the film action takes place at the airport with all the noise and the fuss. Felicia misses her flight, and, between office counters – where she is desperately trying to reschedule her flight, in order to make it on time to pick up her son from his camping trip, and between phone calls – trying to convince Marc’s father to take responsibility for his son, for once, Felicia faces her mother’s coldness and lack of empathy, in its best defined forms. Felicia, who is all in pain and struggling, despite the meaning of her name (Happiness in Latin), has a strong moment of venting, when emotion reaches climax and the bitter taste of lack of understanding shown by her mother reaches absolute bitterness.
“Written and directed by RăzvanRădulescu and Melissa de Raaf, «First of all, Felicia» (2009) is a war film. A war of retorts, in which the dialogue between the two main characters – mother and daughter – brings to surface deep wounds from the pastthat haven’t healed yet.” (Ionuț Mareș – www.ziarulmetropolis.ro )
“>The dialogue has that gripping familiarity which makes you see, especially in the apartment scenes, your own family relationships, turned absurd for so many reasons with the lapse of time. Each character is blind to the others’ world, they don’t recognize each other as they’ve become perfect strangers with only blood to bind them.” (Ana Maria Sandu – www.aarc.ro )
“The everyday setting a simple domestic crisis and the naturalism of the dialogue in the various encounters however belies the brilliance of Razvan Radulescu’s script and the near invisibility of the subtle direction. First of all, Felicia might seem like a light-hearted comedy, but in its own way, it delivers as devastating a portrait of the complexity and failings of human relations and interaction in the changing modern world asThe Death of Mr Lazarescu.” (Noel Megahey – www.thedigitalfix.com )
“It’s a matter of will.
I had a strong will all my life.”
“Tell me exactly, how does it hurt?”
“I don’t want money, I want more commitment.”
“I am your mother and you are my child. I’ll teach you lessons until you die.”
“(…) Because that’s how you survive, you feed on other people’s suffocation.”
- Sarajevo Film Festival – Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2009
- AFI FEST – American Film Institute Film Festival – USA, 2009
- Noordelijk Film Festival – Netherlands, 2009
- Thessaloniki International Film Festival – Greece, 2009
- Goteborg International Film Festival – Sweden, 2010
- Romanian Film Days in Stockholm – Sweden, 2010
- Las Palmas International Film Festival – Spain, 2010
- Seattle International Film Festival – USA, 2010
- Motovun International Film Festival – Croatia, 2010
- CinePecs Film Festival – Hungary, 2010
- Arras International Film Festival – France, 2010
- Romanian Film Festival in Madrid – Spain, 2010
- Cinedays Festival in Skopje – Macedonia, 2010
- Romanian Film Festival in New York – USA, 2010
- Tromso International Film Festival – Norway, 2010
- Best Directing (Răzvan Rădulescu, Melissa de Raaf), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ozana Oancea), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Vasile Mentzel), Best Actress In A Supporting Role (Ileana Cernat), Best First Feature Film (Răzvan Rădulescu, Melissa de Raaf), Best Screenplay (Răzvan Rădulescu, Melissa de Raaf), Gopo Awards – Romania, 2011
- Special Mention at Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur – France, 2009
- Cineuropa Award at Estoril Film Festival – Spain, 2009
- Best Script, Best Debut (Ozana Oancea) and Best Interpretation (Ozana Oancea ex-aequo with Victor Rebengiuc) at Transylvania International Film Festival – Romania, 2010
- Award for Female Interpretation in a supporting role (Ileana Cernat), UCIN – Romania, 2010