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Săucan, Mircea

(1928–2003), film director and writer. Born in Paris of a Jewish mother and Romanian father, both Romanian immigrants, Săucan spent his early childhood among Jewish immigrants in France. The family moved to Prague, where his father studied at the Polytechnical University, and then, in 1934, returned to Romania, settling in the town of Carei in northern Transylvania. In 1940, when this region of Romania was transferred to Hungary, they fled to Sibiu and Sighişoara. From 1948 to 1952, Săucan studied in Moscow at the USSR Institute of Cinematography (VGIK); among his teachers were Sergei Eisenstein, Mark Donskoi, and Sergei Gerasimov.

After his return to Bucharest, Săucan made his debut with several well-received documentaries, including Casa de pe strada noastră (The House on Our Street; 1957) and Pagini de vitejie (Pages of Bravery; 1958). Genuine recognition came with his narrative films, in which he used an innovative style inspired by the traditions of Soviet cinematographic school. His first narrative film, Când primăvara e fierbinte (When Spring Is Hot; 1960) was criticized in the Communist press which claimed that it “distorted” the image of the Romanian village. In his later films, Săucan employed a psychological approach to human tragedy. Although consistent with trends in contemporary European cinema, these films were considered noncompliant with the precepts of official ideology and were censored in various ways: the film Țărmul n-are sfârşit (The Endless Shore; 1961) was banned for formal reasons and the premiere, delayed for 30 years, eventually took place in Jerusalem; his film Meandre (Meanders; 1967) was edited under the strict supervision of the Securitate (political police); and the original negative copy of Suta de lei (The Hundred Lei; 1971) was burned and the film was reedited by censors (a positive copy of the original version, preserved in secret, was first shown in Bucharest and Tel Aviv in 1993). Săucan thus became one of the most severely persecuted film directors in Communist Romania.

Săucan immigrated to Israel in 1987. After that, he directed only a single short film; produced in France, Le Retour (The Return; 1994) is a symbolic poem of life and death that stands as a testament of his entire work. In Israel he published a number of prose works that combine fantasy and grotesque in a surrealist manner: Manuscrisul de la Ciumați (The Manuscript from Ciumați; 1989), Izidor Mânecuță (cioburi) (Izidor Mânecuță [Broken Glass]; 1990), David Rege (King David; 1991), Parastasul (The Memorial Service; 1994), and Funérailles à Bucarest (Funeral in Bucharest; 2000). Săucan was acknowledged as one of the most outstanding Romanian writers in Israel. In collaboration with the journalist Iulia Blaga he published a book of confessions and memoirs, Fantasme şi adevăruri (Phantasms and Truths).

Suggested Reading

Iulia Blaga, Fantasme şi adevăruri: O carte cu Mircea Săucan (Bucharest, 2003); “Omul se naşte cu iubire şi moare cu iubire,” in Întâlniri la Ierusalim, ed. Costel Safirman and Leon Volovici, pp. 275–288 (Bucharest, 2001); “Restituiri,” Izvoare 28–29 (Tel Aviv, 1995–1996): 133–142.



Translated from Romanian by Anca Mircea