'Souvenirs of Bucovina: A Romanian Survival Guide'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / MVD)
Overview: 'Souvenirs of Bucovina: A Romanian Survival Guide' is a two-hour documentary about the region of Bucovina which is located on the northern slopes of the central Eastern Carpathians and adjoining plains; which, at various points over the past two millennia, has been conquered and controlled by the Romans, Goths, Huns, Turks, Austro-Hungarians, Nazis, Soviets, and others; and which, since World War II, has been split between Northern Romania and Southern Ukraine.
DVD Verdict: OK, well, going into this film / documentary, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Sure, I had read the back cover art's run down of the title to hand, but man, have you SEEN that rundown? It is written so tiny and there is, quite literally, half the back cover art taken up by it! Anyway, I read through that, got a handle on what to expect, put the DVD into the player, sat back - and then was truly amazed, taken aback (in the best possible way) by the way that both Robert Mugge and Diana Zelman handled this sensitive, and highly engrossing material.
'Souvenirs of Bucovina: A Romanian Survival Guide' is divided into six parts: the first examines such enduring treasures of the Bucovina region as its pottery, its native dances, and the Eastern Orthodox monasteries built in the 16th Century by Moldavian princes and decorated with colorful exterior frescoes; the second introduces multiple generations of a unique Bucovinan family; the third explores some of the last remaining synagogues and cemeteries of the once-dominant Jewish population which was largely killed off or deported during and after the Second World War.
The fourth explores the Rroma (gypsy) population which was enslaved for 500 years and which (like the Jewish population) was transported to death camps during World War II; the fifth examines ongoing Bucovinan and Romanian survival skills and compares life under Communism from the 1940s through the 1980s with life under Capitalism and democracy today; and the sixth explores the outbreak of color in Romanian society since the democratic revolution of 1989.
Interviewees include individuals already mentioned as well as the Mayor of Radauti, a local historian, an Eastern Orthodox archbishop, a Ukrainian rabbi, a cemetery caretaker, the president of a local Jewish Federation, and a wide variety of musicians performing regional folk music, gypsy brass band music, dance music, klezmer, piano blues, and heavy metal.
'Souvenirs of Bucovina: A Romanian Survival Guide' was shot in 2011 during a long visit to Northern Romania with a side trip to Southern Ukraine. It was directed by Robert Mugge and produced by Mugge with Diana Zelman. These aforementioned couple are totally what makes this film / documentary tick as their collective thoughts, visions are what ends up ensuring that 'Souvenirs of Bucovina: A Romanian Survival Guide' should be seen by as many people as possible. I can only hope this remains true when you watch it and find the need to pass it along to a friend. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of Optional Romanian Subtitles.