The grave of Romanian intellectuals

After productions such as „Bless you, prison” (2002) or „The Unmasking” (2010), Nicoale Mărgineanu continues his exploration of the communist prisons’ world with the movie „White Gate”, a tough cinematographic narrative about the tortures in the labor camp called the Danube-Black Sea Canal. Although the Canal is known as a place of intellectuals’ extermination, the film extensively presents Arsenie Boca and his miracles in the labor camp, his image being that of an apostle of survival in the middle of terror.

White Gate by Nicolae Mărgineanu - CINEPUB

Director: Nicolae Mărgineanu
Scriptwriter: Nicolae Mărgineanu, Oana Maria Cajal
Cast: Cristian Bota, Sergiu Bucur, Bogdan Nechifor, Mădălina Craiu, Maria Ploae, Ion Besoiu
Produced by: Nicolae Mărgineanu
Cinematography by: Mihai Serbușcă
Film editing by: Nita Chivulescu
Year: 2014
Category: feature film
Genre: drama
Duration: 82 minutes
Subtitles: English
Territories: –

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Three young students, Adrian, Ninel and Anuca try to cross the border over the Danube.We are in 1949 when communism was rapidly establishing itself in Romania. The two boys are caught by border rangers and they end up in the forced labor camp of the Danube-Black Sea Canal. They don’t know anything about Anuca’s fate…

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„White Gate” is a Romanian film that adds to the necessary works of art that depict the world of the communist terror in the ’50s Romania. In the biography of Nicolae Mărgineanu there is to be found the reason for his constant interest in the crimes of the communism, and as a support material for „White Gate” he also used the writings such as „Cousin Alexandru” by Adrian Oprescu or „Torture Explained to All” by Florin Constantin Pavlovici.

As we are informed at the end of the movie, the Danube-Black Sea Canal was called „the grave of the Romanian intellectuals”. The film presents the story of two young students at the Faculty of Engineering, Adrian and Ninel, who, as punishment for trying to escape the communist regime by crossing the Danube, are sent to the Danube-Black Sea labor camp. It is there that they will know hard, Sisif-like work, exhaustion, ritual-beatings and many more horrors.

As far as the direction of the movie is concerned, there are no demonstrative excesses, the movie is lucid and balanced, and not completely deprived of the feeling of hope: the character of Arsenie Boca (known as „The Saint of Ardeal”), very well played by Bogdan Nechifor, is a permanent counterpoint of the situations in which the very human essence is under threat. Beyond all the suffering, in the middle of terror, there is always the possibility of spiritual elevation, seems to be the message of this film, a more luminous one than other films on the topic (Daneliuc’s films, for instance).

A film that, precisely for the above reasons, is the necessary counterpoint in the collection of Romanian films online on


„Beautifully shot in glowing digital, with unforced poetic moments of beauty, it’s a hard watch and a grisly insight into an episode of Romanian history very much unknown to the West.” (Sheila Seacroft – )


„Don’t try to flee, or the Danube will swallow you!

You have families, think about who’s waiting for you at home!”

”In here, I am your God! In here you do what I want, not what God wants!”

„We’re building the Canal, we’re building the Canal!”

„You got us all in a frenzy, Father? Where have you been?

Mother’s funeral.


A village in the Apuseni Mountains.”

„(…) I never thought I’d stand in line for a beating.”



Best Screenplay (Nicolae Mărgineanu, Oana Cajal), Best Production Design (Dumitru Nicodim), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bogdan Nechifor), Best Cinematography (Mihai Serbușcă), Young Hope Award (Cristian Bota), Best Hair and Make-up (Dana Moldoveanu), Gopo Awards – Romania, 2015

Media articles:

Transylvania, Mon Amour: Sheila Seacroft Reports from Cluj, Romania (1/2) –