Scientific report

machine_ecrire-ecrire-ecrireMay 2013 – October 2015: Final report

The following activities has been organized during this period

Bibliographical investigation

The greatest strength of the project is the novelty of the approach and the new sources who bring fresh insights to the Romanian recent history. Our scientific approach brings together elements of analysis from social, cultural and political history without belonging entirely to each of these categories. Furthermore, we understand to treat cinematographic relations between France and Romania from multiple perspective choosing analytic categories from diplomatic studies, international relations or cultural transfers but which have the merit to exceed one imposed area.

The aim of these epistemological principles is to bring further clarifications in both, the recent history of Romania as well as the theoretical model of analyzing the international relations in a global context.

Therefore, the bibliography investigated so far, mainly French, English and Romanian, respond to the problematics that we defined and helps us to build an intellectual discourse with multiple ramifications. It includes studies treating questions about the cultural politics in France, the French-Soviet relationships (an essential benchmark for understanding the relationships between France and Romania), the soviet cultural actions towards Western bloc, the importance of Francophony to the French-Romanian relations and generally, the theoretical perspectives in the field of international relations and/or cultural relations.

I have selected a set of nearly 80 works, enlarging the corpus established at the beginning of the project, who presents analyses, case studies and theoretical approaches with a direct impact over the subject I treat.

Collecting the main sources: press, Romanian and French Archives; analyzing the sources The diversity and the novelty of the sources mobilized for the analysis represent the principal value of this project. Not only that it emphasizes original aspects of the cultural and political life, but it reveals the French and Romanian point of view by creating a dialogue between the archives of both countries. The collection and the analysis have been carried out in several stages (The details of each stage could be found on the site of the project).

In a first stage, I have consulted and scanned Romanian magazines specialized in cinema matters. I considered very important the digitalization of documents because I intended to join them in a catalog (database) in order to facilitate the access to these sources and their analysis. Precisely, this includes three periodical publications essentials for any study on the Romanian film production which represents about 400 numbers, as following:

  • Probleme de cinematografie, internal bulletin of the Committee for the Cinema in of the Council of Ministers edited monthly for five years from 1951 until 1955.
  • Film, film review of the General Direction for Cinema of the Ministry of Culture edited monthly since 1956 until 2958.
  • Cinema, monthly film review which appears from 1963 up to 1989.

To these are added items and special numbers of Scînteia, the official newspaper of the Romanian Communist Party and Contemporanul, the main cultural journal.

In the second stage I consulted, scanned and analyzed documents from the archives of the Romanian Ministry of Culture during a research and documentation mission whose aims has been the identification of documents relating to  the external cultural relations of Romania and in particular with France during the period 1948 to 1989. Because the archives are not meticulously classified, I had to watch a much larger quantity of documents to finally select only 10 % of them.

These records include documents related to institutional activity and to the Romanian officials’ approaches to establish contacts with their French homologous to organize various cinematic manifestations. The documents have been produced by the Department of External Relations of the Ministry of Culture (1953-1958), or the Direction of Foreign Relations of the Ministry of Culture and Education (1959-1963), the Direction of Cinema Network and Movies Distribution), and for the period between 1963 – 1971, the State Committee for Culture and Art and the Council for Socialist Culture and Education between 1971-1989.

At this level, the documents reveal information on the functioning of these institutions and the plans of measures more or less concrete regarding the implementation of the directives formulated at a higher level. While the action of the authorities from Bucharest during certain periods is detailed in the records, French cultural activities do not have the same space. This is why consulting French archives have been established as indispensable. (for more informations about this step click here)

In the third stage, I have consulted documents from the National French Archives during a research mission in Paris in November 2013. I have previously selected the files using the online catalog SIV using two keywords (in French): „culture” and „Centre National de la Cinématographie”. I’ve got a set of 40 records regarding Romania and the French-Romanian relationship between 1949 and 1989. They have been produced by the Department of International Affairs of the Ministry of Culture et by the National Center of Cinema and Animated Images, by Unifrance an association of producers responsible for promoting abroad the French film, by TF1 et by the Mission of Foreign relations of the Heritage Department.

These records present information on French cinema events held in Romania but also on the activities organized by the French authorities on the occasion of the days of Romanian film in Paris or Marseilles, but also many other correspondences and reports. These documents help us to see Romania’s place in the process of cultural exchanges between France and the European countries, the way in which commercial actors, from the Romanian and French production and distribution companies approach the idea of cooperation, the French and Romanian logic regarding the question of exchanging films.

A quick assessment indicates the fact that the archives are not equal qualitatively or quantitatively: very poor in the 1950s, rich and representative for certain events of the end of 50’s and the beginning of the 1960s, lower in the second half of the 1960s, although it was the point of maximum expansion of relations between France and Romania. (for more informations about this step click here)

The fourth step represents the research of documents in the Diplomatic Archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Courneuve. They cover in a good proportion the chronological gaps of the documents from the National Archives from Pierrefitte, but focuses mainly on the political and economic relations between France and Romania as seen by diplomat actors. However, the cultural dimension of bilateral relations is very important and some of the files that we have consulted refer particularly to the problems of cultural exchanges.

Unlike the documents from the National Archives that mentions especially the professional activities in cinema (producers, filmmakers, etc) or state officials responsible for Cinema, the diplomatic archives gather documents originating from the activity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with larger political implications. (for more informations about this step click here)

 After a first assessment, both Romanian and French archival documents have the merit to complete one another, to bring clarifications where other records are silent and to follow up the dialog that take place between the various social actors of the two countries.

The fifth step consisted in the consultation of diplomatic and political archives from Romania at the Archives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Historical National Archives in Bucharest. On this occasion I have consulted documents relating to the cultural foreign policy of Romania in the period 1945 to 1984. For the period 1945-1970, the documents are mostly classified, the funds relating to the French cultural problems are being grouped in the fund “217: France” and in the “the Fund Embassy in Paris” (for the period 1948-1957). However, the documents haven’t benefited from a ‘piece by piece’ inventory which has made difficult the search process.

For the period 1970-1989, the documents are no longer classified and organized as rigorously as before, which prevented me from having an overview of the potential of the funds on the problem of the French-Romanian cinematic relations after 1970. I continued my research at the Historical National Archives, where I consulted the inventories from the fund of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Foreign Affairs, Chancellery, Agitation and propaganda and the fund of the Romanian Institute for cultural relations with foreigners (IRRCS), on which I have mainly focused my attention. (for more informations about this step click here)

A sixth step is represented by a documentation mission at the library and archive of BIFI (Film Library) in Paris. I focused on two types of documents: press and archival funds. Magazines and newspapers have been mostly free access (except “L’écran français”), while the archival documents were reserved in advance for a consultation in the researchers’ space. The archival funds dedicated to Romanian movies and filmmakers are quite poor and not always representative in terms of quality. I focused on the 1950s (and some punctual elements from the 1960s and 1970s). The sources of the BIFI inform the following subjects concerning the Romania cinema:

  • films: „Afacerea Protar”, „Ciulinii Baraganului”, „Moara cu noroc”, „Padurea spanzuratilor”, „Rascoala”, „Codin”, „Les mariées de l’An II”, „Les fêtes galantes”.
  • names : Henri Colpi, Ion Popescu Gopo, Mircea Mureşan
  • events: Festivalul de la Cannes din 1946, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1970, 1972

On the other hand, the press fund is much richer. I have consulted the press files which cover the following movies : „Afacerea Protar”, „Ciulinii Baraganului”, „Secretul cifrului”, „Codin”, „Padurea spanzuratilor” and three magazines specialized in matters of culture and film: „Le film français”, „Les lettres françaises” and “L’écran français”. (for more informations about this step click here)

The seventh step which was the last one, took place at the Historical National Archives in Bucharest between 16 and 19 Juin 2015. I have consulted three archival funds : ” Presidence of the Council of Ministers”, “The Minister of Arts and Information”, “The minister of National Propaganda”. I’ve given special attention to the documents from the period between 1945 to 1970 which helped me to document the two studies that were in progress at that time and that I have proposed for publication during this year.

Difficulties encountered     

The difficulties encountered so far are, on the one hand of external nature and determined by objective factors (the program of the institutions, the structure of funds, the degree of indexation and classification) and on the other hand, of a scientific nature (the content of documents).

The main problem related to the French archives is the fragmentation and separation of the funds among many institutions, dispersed all over France: Paris, Nantes, and Fontainebleau. This is due to institutional diversity of the period I study and the treatment of cultural matters by both, public and private institutions or associations. Many times (especially in the case of distribution problem, or the production companies that have disappeared today) redrawing the past involves a detailed research by means of one or more institutions, sometimes without the guarantee of success. It was the case for the audiovisual archives Cinéarchives which have not been able to identify, at my request, documents related to the distribution of Romanian movies. During these research missions, and as there is no information, new directions of exploration have arisen, but I didn’t have the time to check them all, especially that the risk of finding nothing was considerable. Another problem I come across in my activity in French archives was the impossibility to consult some important funds for my project because of the fragility of the building where are kept the documents. It was the case for the fund of the Public Register of Cinema and Audiovisual (RPCA) who delivered exploitation visas for foreign movies whose archives are kept in Fontainebleau and currently forbidden for consultation.

As for Romanian archives the problems are of a different kind. After the Second World War, the cultural activities in Romania are almost exclusively administrated by state institutions. This fact is of a certain comfort for researchers because the documents produced by these institutions are today, centralized: either at the National Archives, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, or at the institutions which have inherited today the old structures, such as Film Archives. On the other hand, a big part of these funds are not yet classified, and without a catalog and an appropriate inventory, the search and the identification of useful documents are very much altered. This fact imply an extensive work: covering tens and hundreds of files without knowing whether they are matching the research topic. In this case, the risk of overlooking/or ignoring important documents is considerable.

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