Where would you think the newest little Hollywood is ? Be careful, from negligence you could cover it with your finger looking for larger spots on the globe ! Yes, as unbelievable as this is, it is true: lately Romania has become a land of Oscar, filming here being almost as a guarantee for being nominated for at least one important prize if not even gaining the most desired one. The unspoiled wild beauty, that something unique and the authenticity of the home of Bacchus are only few of the reasons for the 170 movies cast here in the last 20 years. Another reason are the directors and the extraordinary local technicians not as expensive as expected; a recent example is Dragos Stanomir winner in 2012 of Primetime Emmy prize for “Hatfields & McCoys”. The most notable autochthon director is undoubtedly Cristian Mungiu whose “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” was the first Romanian movie who achieved mainstream cinematic success and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival – and one of the early favorites for the 2008 Oscar, its failure to make the 9-film shortlist triggering quite an outcry in the international media – and “Beyond the Hills” made the Oscar shortlist in 2012. Naturally, Romania has always been a magnet for film makers from around the world (remember “Dracula” or “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”), scouts seeking movie locations and stars who were repeatedly attracted here. From the long list of awarded productions made in this country, here is a selection of the ones that made the biggest waves:
- The uniqueness of House of People architecture made it the perfect backdrop for “Amen” (2002) starring Ulrich Tukur and Mathieu Kassovitz. The adjacently photo (2) is showing one of the paintings inside the huge administrative building that appear in the movie that won a Cesar, a Golden Globe and a Lumiere Award. It has also scenes filmed at Mogosoaia Palace, Baneasa Train Station and Free Press House (Bucharest).
- “Cold Mountain” (2003, 7 Oscar nominations) with Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger, brought to the last one the golden statue, opening a new era for Romania in movie industry. The impressive story of love and war from the America of 1860s depicted was filmed for 5 months in Potigraf village (Gorgota, Prahova), Rasnov and Zarnesti (Brasov) and only 2 weeks in U.S.A. (The leading actors enjoyed visiting Bran and Sighisoara.)
- Francis Ford Coppola, who spent almost a year in this country with his wife Eleanor, said in 2005 he came here to rediscover himself as an artist. And “Youth without Youth” (one nomination) was released 2 years later, showing the Romanian cities of Piatra Neamt, Brasov, Bucharest, Sinaia and Constanta.
- The Peles Castle, the roads between Comarnic and Breaza (Prahova) and the harbour and casino (photo 3) of Constanta were settings for “The Brothers Bloom” (2007) with Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz that received 3 nominations.
- The motorcycle stunt scenes from the sequel to “Ghost Rider” starring the Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, were the motive for which one of the world’s most craziest mountain roads – Transfagarasan (over 2,000 meters tall), crossing the Romanian Carpathians – was closed for a week in 2010. “Ghost Rider 2 – Spirit of Vengeance” (one nomination) has also scenes filmed in Hunedoara, Sibiu (photo 4) and in Gorj county.
- ”A Princess for Christmas” aka “Christmas at Castlebury Hall” (2011) with Roger Moore and Katie McGrath shot at MediaPro Studios and Bragadiru Palace in Bucharest won two nominations.
- Another Hollywood movie “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (2011, one win and 8 nominations) featuring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law was made at Castel Film Studios (30 km away from Bucharest), where there is the largest western setting in Europe (to make an idea it is about four times larger than what was used at Zarnesti for “Cold Mountain”).
- The landscapes from Rasnov area (photo 5), very similar with those from West Virginia and Kentucky served as the Appalachian backdrop of “Hatfields & McCoys” (2011) which brought to Kevin Costner the first Primetime Emmy prize (2012) and the Golden Globe (2013).
- Scenes of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 1” (2012, one nomination) with Peter Weller and Ariel Winter were filmed within Turda Salt mine (Cluj), taking advantage of the great setting.
- The newest stars arrived were Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia (2012) for “What about Love” filmed in Bucharest city center, on Transfagarasan in the area of Arefu (Arges) and at Ravens Castle (photo 6, Hunedoara).