Arts & Entertainment

Celluloid’s last stronghold

By Marcel Gascón

Bucharest, Jul 3 (efe-epa).- A decade ago, when digital technology began to prevail in cinema and many considered analog film to be a dying art, Rodrigo Ruiz-Tarazona decided to embark on a path all others had abandoned and opted to take over a studio that still uses celluloid.

The Spaniard still had faith in the classic medium and he bought CineLabs Romania in 2013, the last studio in the European Union that was capable of making films from start to finish on celluloid.

“There is no studio in all of continental Europe that provides full services like we do in the entire area of ??photochemistry, from filming to completion,” Ruiz-Tarazona tels Efe, detailing his achievements with pride.

“We are the last stronghold, the last photochemical studio in Europe.”

“That is what has kept us going as the ultimate survivors in the last seven years when the other studios, which were only dedicated to filming or providing some services with negatives, have all disappeared,” he adds.

Ruiz-Tarazona is a precocious veteran of the film industry at the age of 52.

Before arriving in Bucharest, where CineLabs is located, he was involved in Kodak’s film division.

He was appointed worldwide marketing director for the company in 1999 at the age of 31.

Asked why some directors still turn to the old ways of filmmaking, rather than joining the majority in the world of digital arts, Ruiz-Tarazona highlights the “artistic touch” that the negative brings to the image.

“The human being captures the image of a negative with much more quality than any image in any digital format; in other words, the texture of the camera negative of a shoot is impossible to match, and all the directors who have used it know that,” he says.

One of these directors is Romanian Cristi Puiu, who is also an actor and screenwriter.

Puiu, 53, is one of the most prestigious independent filmmakers in Europe and is considered the father of the New Wave of Romanian Cinema.

“In an ideal situation, if I had a budget and absolute freedom of choice, I would choose film,” Puiu tells Efe.

The Romanian director, who has also worked in digital, has used CineLabs’ Kodak 35-mm film to produce multi-award-winning pieces such as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Aurora and Sierranevada.

“I would choose film because of the final texture of the image,” says the Romanian director, who points out “the warmth” images shot with negatives transmit.

In addition to the extra life the grain gives to the image, Puiu highlights the artisanal nature of the negative.

“When recording with film there is a certain urgency because unlike digital, which allows you to take the shots you want, each extra shot implies an expense, which forces the entire team to work with extra care and responsibility,” he says.

These riskier working conditions sharpen the filmmaker’s perception, who can see on a screen in real time what they are filming when working on digital, according to the director.

Aside from successes at film festivals around the world with his personal and realistic portraits of post-communist Romania, Cristi Puiu teaches at the Bucharest Film School.

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