The Story of Transylvania

More pictures here on my facebook

Transylvania is a land of stories – stories of a people struggling against the yoke of the Roman empire, the Ottoman Empire, then the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Taking sides for survival can mean that independence is no longer a priority. These stories are in the land, told by the castles of counts, Roman sarcophagi, and by monasteries and churches vying for influence; defying and manifesting decrees of who can gather, who can not, what you may believe, and what you may not.

Having these stories written in their own land, the Romanian imagination needn’t wander far to tell a story. It is no coincidence that the story of the ruthless Vlad “the impaler” Tepes has gained international fame and infamy for the land. In fact, the count never spent a day at what is known as “Dracula’s castle” in Bran. But the physicality of the structure tells a very believable tale.

Cluj is a university town, and this past week, played host to the Transylvania International Film Festival (www.tiff.ro/en). Why would I travel overnight for 14 hours, including two hours at a border checkpoint, to spend ten hours in movie theatres over the course of two days, and a third day trying to see sights in and around Cluj? For the movies, music, discussions, art, and to see, hear, and feel some stories – stories of Romania, and stories people have brought to Cluj from around the world.

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