The Second Game
Eve Lucas sat down with Romanian new wave director Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective) at the Berlinale. The director was presenting Al Doilea Joc (The Second Game), a film comprised of a 90-minute voiceover commenting on a 1988 football match between teams ‘supported’ by the Romanian secret service and the army – and refereed by his father.
Why did you choose to make a film on this particular match?
When I was a child, I saw this game and I didn’t understand anything but I was very afraid. I remember that. After that I saw the last five minutes of the game in a TV show called Replay. I remembered the game as the one that I didn’t understand. I spoke with the producer and got the tape from Mircea Lucescu’s house – the great coach of Shakhar Donetsk: he has hundreds of games on video. The tape is without commentary, just the transmission from the big car.
Then I went home with the DVD and my reporter phone but at the same time, I didn’t know it was going to be a movie. It could have been a documentation for a movie that I’ve still to make. I didn’t prepare anything. It was just a meeting that touched a lot of subjects.
Were you imposing your filmmaker’s eye on your father’s refereeing of this game?
Maybe. Of course, I also played football at one point and my father also has an idea of cinema and asks me all the time: when are you going to make a serious movie? Each one of us speaks about the others' field. It happens often in our family.
You comment on the link between football and film in the movie: about 90 minutes, both made for mass consumption. Were you looking for parallels?
They’re both this type of mass cultural show. I think Fàbregas said that only four percent of the guys watching football really know what football is. I like to watch football and think of structures. I take pleasure in the tactics. It’s the same for cinema. It’s not just about emotion. And I still think that the cinema is for theatre. You go there, you watch it there with lots of other people. Although mostly, we work on three act stories. Here – just two!
You describe your fear, as a child, that your father could make a wrong decision on the field, with consequences for his family. Is this film an exorcism of that fear?
No. It’s far away. I was maybe eight, nine at the time. Time has passed, which is why I’ve called it The Second Game. This second game, of life, has become more important. All this kind of pressure, which was primary then, is secondary now.
Did you consider that imposing a post-fact narrative on a football game could get a little surreal?
It’s about my childhood. So for me, it’s not surreal. In the same time, it’s also very strange because it’s not mine any more.
Do you support a Romanian team – and is it the same team you supported as a child under Ceausescu?
No. I like the team from my hometown Vaslui but I’m not a fan like in England. It’s a different tradition. Only a few towns have local teams and regional traditions.