The ramble back home

Marcel Iureș, „a genius hero” (Empire) playing his first role in a comedy film, along with Mihaela Sîrbu, whose acting is characterized as an „amazing debut” in cinema, are the main characters of this out-of-the-box road movie, „The Phantom Father”. The remarkable cast of this Romanian film is completed by Valer Dellakeza, Mihai Constantin, Mimi Brănescu, Victor Rebengiuc, Mariana Mihuț, Nicodim Ungureanu, Vitalie Bantas, Marcello Cobzariu and Mirela Oprișor.

The film marks the debut in feature fiction debut of writer/producer Lucian Georgescu, who wrote the script together with Barry Gifford, the son of a gangster in Chicago, „the only American prose writer alive, close to a genius” (Norman Mailer).

„The Phantom Father” tells the exotic story of an American teacher in search of his roots in Bucovina. The searches go far beyond the „reality” of the film.

Tatal Fantoma - Lucian Georgescu - 2012

Director: Lucian Georgescu
Scriptwriter: Lucian Georgescu după o poveste de Barry Gifford
Cast: Marcel Iureș, Mihaela Sîrbu, Mihai Constantin, Valer Dellakeza, Mimi Brănescu, Barry Gifford, Mariana Mihuț, Victor Rebengiuc, Nicodim Ungureanu
Produced by: Lucian Georgescu, Joachim von Vietinghoff
Cinematography by: Liviu Mărghidan
Film editing by: Ion Ioachim Stroe
Year: 2011
Category: feature film
Genre: drama
Duration: 90 minutes
Subtitles: english

89,806 – Cinepub viewers


“The stranger than paradise”, Robert  Traum the “dreamer”, meets, in front of the “Cinema Paradiso”, Sami, the projectionist – an old friend of his family long gone from the Old World to the new continent – after an adventurous, mysterious and funny journey, to finally find love – of himself as well as of others.

Unique, yet symbolic, this is the story of an American professor of Jewish descent who is compelled to turn his back on a successful career and get on the road that takes him through danger, the unknown and the surreal, back to the roots to reclaim his identity. The quest takes the hero, masterfully portrayed by Peter Greenaway and Francis Ford Coppola, the actor Marcel Iures, back to the Old World that rewards our traveler with a double love story. On the one hand he finds romantic love, on the other the passion for old cinema, nomad, popular, naïve and generous.

An out-of-the-box road-movie, The Phantom Father uses as a starting point the short story “Almost Oriental” by the writer Barry Gifford (“Wild at Heart”, “Lost Highway”, “Perdita Durango”) who also has a cameo in the film.

A biter-sweet comedy, the movie tells a double love-story: on the one side, that between an American (Marcel Iureș) who returned to the native country of his father’s – a Chicago gangster from the Siegel-Lanski clan, which is, in fact, an element belonging to Barry Gifford’ s autobiograhy – and Tania (Mihaela Sîrbu), and, on the other side, that for the old type of cinema, nomad, popular, naive and generous.

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A tender and nostalgic homage paid to a past era, „The Phantom Father” is a pulp road movie which combines stylistically the postmodern and the classical cinema.In the gallery of Romanian films made after 2000, the movie fills a particular place by not belonging to the „New Wave” aesthetics. It is a self sufficient Romanian film, a round construction that encloses not only the story of several generations and of several extinct worlds but the very circle of its crepuscular aesthetics. Therefore, the film fills a quite unique place in the Romanian films online selection made by Cinepub.

The director about the movie

„The Phantom Father” is the impressionist portrait of a chimera of a man approaching his old age while still haunted by the phantoms of the childhood. The confusion of the age crisis lived by Traumer “the dreamer” contaminates the entire narrative pattern of the movie that is based on a malentendu: of ages, of geography, of cultures and languages.

The movie unfolds in a rhythm of a tango, permanently oscillating between the New World and the old continent, between childhood and adult age, between fairy tale and thriller, fiction and reality, love and threat, search and avoidance of responsibility, between the ordinary and the supernatural, between memory and hope.

The quid-pro-quo is the main compositional tool, the characters are confused not only about their own identity but also about the others’, the obese mayor is mistaken during the night for the seraphic Tania, the American teacher for a dangerous CIA agent, the old projectionist confronts the Ukrainian mobsters who give up their role to become fast food sellers while the temporary visitor mistaken for a serious suitor gets hitched  without even knowing what serious thing had just happened to him.

The „Phantom Father” is not a genre movie while it doesn’t belong to a particular genre either , it is a road movie fusion, with bitter cherries comfiture topping, in which the final destination is the road itself as desert. Recommended to lovers of solid, good-tempered, tender fiction, to be generously consumed.»


The Phantom Father is a text-film with glimpses of genius as well as faults, just as life itself. It is for this very reason that it is a live, touching, humane artifact there no life without imperfections and no good cinema without life.” (Dumitru Carabăț – )


„Are you fishing for compliments, Mr. Traum?”
„There are no good hotels in Suceava.”
„I don’t make promises. Especially not to the Russians.”
„«Entertainment», Sami. Have you heard this word?”
„You threw me out of the cinema, you shut it down, and took my life from me. What else do you want?”


  • Transilvania International Film Festival, RoDays – Romania, 2011
  • Montreal World Film Festival, competition – Canada, 2011
  • Romanian Film Festival in London – UK, 2011
  • Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival, competition – Germany, 2011
  • Love Film Festival in Mons, competition – Belgium, 2011
  • Byron Bay International Film Festival – Australia, 2011
  • Cape Winelands International Film Festival – South-Africa
  • Cinemateca de Montevideo – Uruguay, 2012
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival, competition – USA, 2012
  • Chicago Europe Film Festival, Gene Siskel Art Centre – USA, 2012
  • Durres International Film Festival – Albania, 2012
  • Riga International Film Festival – Latvia, 2012
  • Raindance Film Festival – UK, 2012
  • Bahamas International Film Festival – Bahamas,2012


  • Special Jury Award at Almaty International Film Festival “Shaken’s Stars” – Kazakhstan, 2012
  • Metamorfoze Award (Debut) at PROCULT Cinefestival din Roma – Italy, 2012

Media articles

  • The Phantom Father is the best Romanian Movie I’ve ever seen –
  • Review: The Phantom Father –