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Review: “Acasă, My Home”

The journalist and film critic Marta Reis, from Cineclube do Porto, reviews “Acasă, My Home“, from director Radu Ciorniciuc.

From the valley of weeping to the concrete jungle, Radu Ciorniciuc’s documentary, Acasă My Home, is set in contemporary Bucharest, the capital and largest city of Romania. The Enache family has been living on an island in the wetlands surrounding Lake Văcăreșt for twenty years. As Vacaresti Park develops, the Enache’s are evicted from the new Urban Nature Park. Radu Ciorniciuc accompanied this family for four years and recorded the event. 

At the lake the children can run free, swim and play with animals but social services perceive that they are not properly taken care of and order them to attend school. For Gica, the father, school is not an option as it is very far from the lake, he does not want to be separated from his children and also refuses to go back to living in the city.

The municipality finds them an apartment in the city but we can see that there is a lot of learning for them to do in order to adjust. And while the children start going to school, and try to adapt to the new way of life, the adults are becoming increasingly ill. Nonetheless, the mother does not seem to have any regrets and wants to help her children succeed. Vali, the oldest son, is able to find proper work and is trying to adjust to living in the city but collides with his father’s views. However, Gika has no ally in his struggle to go live elsewhere. Homesickness prevails and, as Vali moves out, the mother is not able to provide for the children.

Once again the Enache’s are evicted… Mihaela, the local counselor, is always very supportive and keeps trying to help them settle in spite of their seemingly lack of commitment. As Vali seems to be thriving we wish that the children will follow his example.

Ciorniciuc’s observational documentary is fascinating. By accompanying the Enache family so closely in their day-to-day lives we become very compassionate. The images shot in nature and in the lake are very idyllic but we can see the Mother and children working hard all the time. People and animals share the same space and it is heartbreaking to acknowledge the impoverished and dangerous conditions of the family at the lake. We feel sorry for the children being kept in a bubble in fear of the outside world and then abruptly forced to adapt to a foreign reality.

We do not know exactly what happened that propelled Gika to go live in the middle of nowhere but as they settle in the city and are shouted at we understand that he surely has been discriminated against and wanted to shield his children from prejudice. Living in ignorance and deprivation might have been disadvantageous for the family’s integration in society but with proper acknowledgment and more empathetic professionals from all areas working together in the field hopefully, this new generation will flourish!