Steven Spielberg – special guest at AIFF.6

Masterclasses with Sebastian Strasser and Răzvan Rădulescu at Apollo 111

Full program

“In a cinema, you watch films with the important people in your life, but also in the company of strangers. This is the magic we experience when we go out to see a film, a theatre performance or a concert. We don’t know who all these people around us are, but when the experience makes us laugh or cry, cheer or contemplate, when the lights come on and we leave our seats, the people we walk out into the real world with are no longer complete strangers,” Steven Spielberg recently wrote in an essay for Empire explaining why this magic will not be diminished even by the pandemic. The legendary filmmaker knows what he is talking about, for his films have united nations and generations in excitement and delight, becoming landmarks of popular culture.

American director Steven Speilberg has accepted the invitation from the American Independent Film Festival to converse with Romanian filmgoers. On Friday April 15th, at the Elvire Popesco Cinema, after the screening of West Side Story, the talk, moderated by film critic Andrei Gorzo, will take place. Moreover, the audience will be able to ask their own questions to the famous filmmaker by filling in the form after buying a ticket. The dialogue will take place via Zoom and will last around an hour, as the American filmmaker wants to do his bit to help Ukrainian refugees through the festival’s initiative.

“The art of storytelling and emotion come to the fore. Business and image come second” – is just one of the pieces of advice the director has given to younger filmmakers over the years, so whether you’re a professional or just a cinephile, don’t miss the unique opportunity to be live with one of the titans of American cinema, expensive to watch even at the world’s biggest festivals. 

This year’s American Independent Film Festival pays a well-deserved tribute to this titan of American cinema with an unmissable triptych. First up, E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, a continuously thrilling masterpiece that, despite having turned 40, turns us all into children with every screening. Then there’s the thriller DUEL (also shown on the big screen in Romania during the Ceausescu era under the title Duel on the Highway), one of the best genre productions of the last half century. At just 24 years old, with incredible technical virtuosity, Spielberg managed to extract unbearable suspense from “dry stone” (in this case, a minimalist budget). AIFF.6 audiences will also get to see WEST SIDE STORY, his latest hit, a second resounding adaptation after the 1957 musical of the same name, which won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Ariana DeBose) in 2021. A memorable visual spectacle that US Weekly calls “a dizzying version of Romeo and Juliet that stirs the senses.” To appreciate it for what it’s worth, today’s viewers will be able to compare it to Robert Wise’s famous 1961 classic version, winner of an incredible 10 Oscars. You have the unique opportunity to enjoy it in all its original Technicolor glory on the big screen in a restored version. Apart from the musical that inspired them, the two films, made 60 years apart, have one thing in common: the legendary actress Rita Moreno. 

The valuable art of storytelling is important in both film and advertising. Learn more about how advertising and film influence each other in the Advertising vs. Cinema masterclass presented by Sebastian Strasser. 

Sebastian is one of the top five advertising directors in the world, with over 200 international awards for his innovative advertising campaigns at Cannes, the London IAA and the New York Festival for brands such as Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW, Nissan, Vodafone and Volkswagen – one of the clips for the German car manufacturer, Kids on Steps, was included among the 20 best ads of the 21st century by the Gunn Report in 2015.

His first short film, Happy End, was selected for the Berlinale in 2005. In 2016, he moved to Los Angeles, where he developed the dystopian Darklands series as creator, writer and director, with the project selected for production by Warner Bros. Pictures. 

The director will share his experience in the field and explain how to develop a complex narrative in a short format, either commercial or short film.  

“When the line will be drawn and the history of Romanian film in the 21st century will be written, the DNA of Răzvan Rădulescu (Romanian writer and screenwriter) will be found in every fibre of these so-called “minimalist” films. Răzvan is the “grey eminence” of pure & hard made in Romania film, the man who knows that it’s cooler to create a fashion than to follow it. His sharp and restless intelligence shines on the sombre skeleton of these films like a diamond as big as the Ritz Hotel”, wrote the late film critic Alex Leo Șerban in his book 4 decades, 3 years and 2 months with Romanian film, published in 2009. In the meantime, Rădulescu has also become a director and a multi-award-winning script doctor, practically an “indispensable” of European auteur cinema. 

At AIFF.6, Răzvan Rădulescu will hold the Script Consulting masterclass in collaboration with Write a Screenplay For… where he will start from a concrete example of a screenplay and will explain the narrative mechanisms to be followed to develop a story. The filmmaker will also present details of his new workshop, Script Savages Club, dedicated to film directors, screenwriters and producers.

Both masterclasses will take place at Apollo 111, and admission is free with an invitation that must be booked in advance on

The full AIFF.6 programme can be found on and tickets for the screenings at Elvire Popesco Cinema and Peasant Museum Cinema are already available online on

Tickets for the AIFF Warm up in Cluj are available on the website and at the Cinema Victoria box office.

All proceeds from ticket sales for AIFF.6 will be donated to Save the Dogs and Other Animals run by Sara Turetta. The association is the first NGO of its kind in the animal protection sector in Romania and is actively involved in supporting Ukrainian refugee families crossing into Romania through the Isaccea border point. In addition to working closely with local NGOs to receive refugees and provide them with basic necessities, the association helps them find accommodation that allows them to be accompanied by their pets, providing pet food, supplies and transport logistics.

The funds obtained from the Warm up that AIFF is organising between 16-17 April at the Victoria Cinema in Cluj-Napoca will go to the Expert Forum Association led by Sorin Ioniță. The organisation is involved in helping the inhabitants of Odessa and Chernivtsi areas, organising the transport of aid collected through voluntary contributions to people in need in neighbouring Romania.

Organised by the Cinemascop Association, AIFF.6 is a cultural project co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration*, with the support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Romania** and the Union of Romanian Film and Audiovisual Producers – Romanian Association for the Management of Audiovisual Works.
Supported by: Banca Transilvania

Partners: Romanian Cultural Institute, Fortech, Europa Cinemas, French Institute in Romania, Elvire Popesco Cinema, Romanian Peasant Museum, Peasant Museum Cinema, Apollo 111, Eventbook, Retromobil Club , Voodoo Films.

Co-organised by Multi Media Est

Main Media Partners: Radio Guerrilla, AGERPRES.

Media Partners: Zile și Nopți, Cinemap, Film Menu, Ziarul Metropolis, LiterNet, Movie News, IQ Ads, Smark, Films in Frame, The Institute, CineGhid, Munteanu Recomandă, AARC – All About Romanian Cinema, Radio România Cultural, Cultura la dubă

*The project does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or the way the results of the project may be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the grantee.
**This project is funded in part by a grant from the US Department of State. The opinions, findings, and conclusions presented during the project are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of State.

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