Romanian movie featuring Soliman Cruz to close 10th QCinema

Following the warmly received Triangle of Sadness, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Cannes-winning social satire featuring Filipino actor Dolly de Leon which opened the 10th QCinema on 17 November, To the North, helmed by Romanian Mihai Mincan and starring another Pinoy thespian, Soliman Cruz (along with Bart Guingona and Noel Sto. Domingo), will close the nine-day film festival on 26 November.

PROMOTIONAL poster of ‘To The North.’

Streetlife is reprinting parts of a review of To the North, written by Stefan Dobroiu and published on the Cine Europa website (

The film was screened in the Orizzonti section of the 75th Venice Film Festival.

Photographs courtesy of FABRIZIO DE GENNARO for Cine Europa

“Legally and financially, To the North is, indeed a Romanian film, but it looks and feels as stateless as the international waters where the action takes place, confining mostly Filipino and Taiwanese characters to a ship in the middle of the ocean.

“We know from the very beginning that the film is based on real events that took place in 1996. A mysterious first scene shows two men adrift in the middle of the ocean, on an improvised raft. We see both desperation and resignation in their eyes, and the immensity of the liquid surrounding them can only mean one thing: the end is nigh for them. At that exact moment, the story switches to Dumitru (Nikolai Becker), a young Romanian who is playing an improvised game of football with his Bulgarian friend (Dimitar Vasilev). Their cryptic conversation tells us two things: they want to make it big in America, and they will get there as stowaways on a cargo ship… Little do they know that the captains of such ships had quite an easy, albeit terrible, solution to get rid of stowaways.

“With an impressive economy of means, Mincan’s screenplay creates a powerful dynamic of power and powerlessness, with poor Dumitru’s life at stake in its exact center. But he is not without allies in this unwelcoming territory made of steel and narrow passageways: Dumitru will soon be discovered by Joel (Soliman Cruz), a Christian member of the Filipino crew who decides to help the young Romanian after seeing a Bible in his hiding place. Here, Mincan creates an intriguing and complex game between “us” and “them,” with one life hanging in the balance. It is quite interesting how Dumitru and Joel can form an “us,” even though they are separated by wildly different life experiences, while the Taiwanese officers of the ship can become “them.”

“It would be hard to find a story more universal than the one in To the North. It is a tale about status and power. Yes, the characters are Romanian, Filipino and Taiwanese, but they could hail from anywhere.”

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