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In Memory of the Greatest Moldovan Film Maker

Emil Loteanu was a Russian and Moldovan film director, scriptwriter, and poet. He was born on November 6, 1936 in Socriani, Cernigov. In 1953-1955 at the MKhat studio school he took acting classes. In 1962 graduated from VGIK, film director department. In 1962 started work at Moldova-Film studio, where he made his first debut with a heroic revolutionary film “We’ll be back at dawn”. In 1966 Loteanu filmed “Red Fields”, that became the starting point of his poetic and romantic trend in film directing. In 1973 he transferred to Mosfilm. “Gypsy Camp Leaves for the Sky” and “My gentle and tender creature” brought the director true recognition. His films were honored with numerous international awards. Loteanu published several volumes of poems and prose.

Emil Loteanu passed away on April 18. On the 25th he had been expected in Chisinau to start working on a new film that could have been the hope of the Moldovan film industry.

The news of his decease was a shock to everyone, friends and enemies, those who admired and disliked his work. Whatever the feelings towards him, Loteanu’s art helped promote Moldova on an international scale during the Soviet times. Nikita Mikhalkov, a famous Russian producer, expressed what was probably the most objective point of view. He said that it is possible not to like Emil Loteanu as a film director, but his gifted presence in the film industry is indisputable.

For many people his works were romance and celebration, which regardless of skin color, age, or gender everybody seeks. A poet by nature, Loteanu could feel the endless yearning for beauty and realized a nation’s dream in his films. He was one of those rare people that knew what their audience needed without market research or advertising, the type of man that could create art and treat the audience to it. Like no one else Loteanu possessed the skill of marketing himself and of building an impressive image.

One of the things that Emil Loteanu could not resist was beauty. Beautiful women had an amazing power over him. Some of them, including Svetlana Toma and Galina Beliaeva, were young actresses he helped achieve success. To him they were like special works of art, unique creations that helped reflect the best of what exists on earth and convey an inside world full of feeling and emotion.

Loteanu’s was a personality that dominated with its creativity and profound inspiration. A boundless source of energy made his stories colorful and exciting even when there was a lack of words to describe all the traces of feeling. “When I make films, I make good films, not some sort of rubbish!” he would exclaim, giving people around him the unceasing impression of a man that could rise to the sky on the strength of his talent and flamboyancy.

Some directors acknowledged that Loteanu was the only one in the Soviet Union who could create spectacular films with perfectly cut takes and colorful scenes. The question he asked himself was what the right material for molding a central character would be. And according to Loteanu there were many leading roles in a movie because even if the actor came on for only ten seconds, he still had to be the central hero in that brief period of time, which could account for the strongest impressions from the film.

Before he became famous Loteanu led a vagrant lifestyle, sleeping in the storage rooms of the Chisinau Philharmonic and moving from one hostel to another. At the age of eight he had to face the real world and overcome all the difficulties of being an independent person. Loteanu’s father, a wealthy Polish miller, was killed at the end of the war. Escaping the soviet regime Emil and his mother traveled to Romania. On the way there she lost track of her son. They met years afterwards in Bucharest when she already had another family. Loteanu did not want to intrude, and at 18 he returned to Chisinau. After several years as a member of the Moldovan delegation for the Republic’s Cultural Festival, Loteanu decided to stay in Moscow. On his next trip to Chisinau Loteanu was already a renowned maestro. People recognized him in the streets, and those that could catch at least a glimpse of him felt honored.

Loteanu was not only a director who created distinctive film heroes but also a man who progressed with every new development in his work. He was an ostentatious personality and the biggest spendthrift, living by the principle “all that is earned should be spent”. Although he was the first man in Chisinau to own a car, Loteanu gave no great value to his material possessions. He was loved for his spirit, charm, and ability to make beauty more tangible for thousands of people.

By Natalia Corobco

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