The Romanian Documentary “Acasa, my homeExplore life outside the confines of society. The idea of living off the grid, raising children, hunting, fishing, swimming and camping may have escaped, but is permeated with current reality. Who hasn’t felt the need to run away in this confusing and terrifying year?
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The stars of this fantasy, the Enache family, still have a few jobs to do: looking after Zane, their pet pig, and Gica, their sick patriarch. But they are less interested in their duties than in their surroundings, whether in a field or in a stream. There is no shortage of nature and beauty in Lake Vacaresti, an abandoned marshland where the Enachians live freely and harmoniously on the land, the children fish and swim in the lake, the cubs frolic on the shore like a pack of puppies.
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While Gica may not protect his children from some realities in life – the city beyond the swamp – he does keep them away from other things, like shopping malls, fast food, Twitter, and other indulgences of modern life. Everyone decides how to raise their children, and Gica’s choices will be scrutinized when social services take his family away from Vacaresti Lake.
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“Acasa, My Home” is written and staged by Radu Ciorniciuc, a veteran journalist who was most recently best known for his work at The Guardian. This is his directorial debut, and the film is almost strange how gently radiant and attentive it is. This is in large part thanks to Ciornicius’ access to the enaches he filmed over the course of four years. After gaining their trust, he followed them everywhere – even to a noisy and curious place called “Civilization”.
The misunderstandings and confusions of these forest children who find themselves in the big, wide world of shopping malls and highways lead to many funny yet profound moments. All of the world’s survival training failed to prepare her for school, phones, or haircuts, which exposed the gaps in Gica’s parenting. But “Acasa, my home” immerses you in his perspective so convincingly that his path is the only one (especially compared to the paths of the city).
The children learn to read and write, do arithmetic and learn the rules of the game, while their father is forced to pay rent and do odd jobs. He wants to return to the lake. So does the second oldest son Rica, who in a tearful confession in front of the camera – one of many devastating, heartbreaking scenes late in the documentary – compares the city to a prison. “The food in Vacaresti also tastes better,” he says. “We should go back.”
But this isn’t one of those movies where everything is back to normal and things fit together neatly. Instead, “Acasa, My Home” examines how bureaucracy kills families one by one by turning them into 40-hour workhorses a week. It ponders the meaning of freedom vigorously and assumes that our only chance at control can be a place far from civilization, a place where the reeds sway gently and the fish are plentiful.
It’s a place we can all run to. Few actually do this. [B]