From the description, I did not realise that Blue Planet (Planeta Albastră) was a documentary. Nor did I realise that it was made in Cluj.
From the questions after the show, and the closing titles, everyone could see that not only was it a great advertisement for a band, but it was also a great one for the university.
Yes, hard to believe, but one of the best feature length documentaries that I ever saw at a festival was in fact a student film? I earned a masters in media production in the UK (at a Skillset qualified university), and I don’t think any of my classmates had films with lighting, sound, or camerawork half as good as that one. Of course, other films by Babes Bolyai graduates are also good. If you are considering studying film, and are not stuck between whether to study in the UK or Romania, I would choose Romania.
Okay, enough of that. They are not paying me to advertise their course.
The film opens with a band who is rehearsing, and a taxi driver seems to be the star. He drives people around, and gets a tip for coffee money. The song is Blue Planet.
We see a little bit of the band’s music, which seems to have been good enough to motivate audience members to get their phones out and start recording. (I haven’t seen that for over ten years, and that was when a top Chinese director came to Wales). The recording was good enough to merit a rerecording.
We see the band’s reaction to a power outage (really a blown fuse), the adventures of their day jobs, their attempts at publicity, and the dynamics of their family lives. They consider making a music video for their band, they look into booking a pub, and one actor
There were more laughs here than there are at most mainstream films. Okay, so the twenty-first century is kind of lacking when it comes to great comedy, but it was enjoyable. I was incredibly surprised to find out this was shot by a masters student, it was better than any film I have seen by a film lecturer.
The subject matter might seem a little tired, everyone has a dream to have a band or a restaurant or something like that. But a great interviewer can bring out the dream in an interesting way, making it more universal and understandable. Maybe the people were naturally charismatic, but even then you see films about celebrities that send you to sleep.
And here, after a week of getting too little sleep, Blue Planet was the film film at the TIFF 2023 that did not send me to sleep.