It is rather difficult to meet Anca Miruna Lazarescu in November 2019. WE ARE THE WAVE had started earlier in the month on Netflix. Recently, she got an international agency to present her new projects in London. In mid-November she was jury president of the Munich Film School Festival – in the city where she studied, and where her first feature film premiered. Then there are her plans to shoot a documentary in Romania and continuing negotiations about a new streaming series. And the mother of two wants to see something of her family as well. In short, she has a lot on her plate.
But when the meeting worked out, she is completely in her element. She sees herself as a narrator, and so a short lunch becomes a vivid afternoon full of stories about lost dreams and hopes between East and West, the society we are living in, but also about healthy skepticism regarding the film industry.
“A director once said to me that up until his third feature film, he was still scared no one would ever ring him up again.” And where does she stand right now? “I‘m getting the calls now.” She is able to say this with a quiet smile, following her short film SILENT RIVER (2011), which won over 80 international prizes. And after the two acclaimed full-length features, THAT TRIP WE TOOK WITH DAD (2016) and HAPPINESS SUCKS (2018), which was nominated for the German Film Award. Not to mention receiving the Grimme Prize for the HBO-series HACKERVILLE (2018) and a publicity-effective controversy over the Netflix-series WE ARE THE WAVE (2019).
In between, she had even thought she might quit the business. That was in 2017, when she had been working on her debut for seven years and money was tight. But at the latest when teaching students in acting and directing in Passau, the certainty returned – “I can’t breathe without telling stories. And without working as a director.”
Few other talents from Germany have been better at seizing the opportunities of the new streaming era. Of course, the new players are short on production money, and especially on time. An average of 5 to 6 minutes per shooting day had to be produced for WE ARE THE WAVE. “You just sleep less,” she comments laconically.
In return, she experienced great freedom, however. “I want to put my vision into pictures,” she says. This was possible during the production based on the scripts by Jan Berger. The very beginning of the series demonstrates this: Lazarescu filmed the election campaign of a right-wing radical party called the NFD realistically close to AFD election campaign posters, exaggerating them at the same time through the number of extras into a sinister celebration reminiscent of the Nazis‘ racist mass mania. Something that is also rooted in Lazarescu’s own biography. After all, in the 1980s she herself experienced the importance of free societies in communist Romania.
A struggle for personal freedom features in all her projects. And WE ARE THE WAVE has become powerful agit-prop. As opposed to the original book, the series does not deal with young people’s seducibility by fascism: on the contrary, it examines the Eros of activism and rebellion. “Things don‘t begin at a desk. Getting down on your knees, losing hold of things, wanting too much,” says the director. And the story of the young people who call themselves The Wave as activists is inspiring young people all over the world; there have been numerous responses in social networks from Brazil, Algeria or Turkey, for example.
She really likes the principle of series: “Ever since I can remember, I‘ve lost points because I have always tested the limits of short or feature films, falling too much in love with side characters and side plots. The luxury of really digging into a story’s depth is only possible in the format of a series!”
The next step is her entry into international serial production. And now some top-class offers from this field are dropping into Lazarescu’s in-box – stories just asking to be told!