Poppy Field – closeted Bucharest policeman deals with his inner demons
Poppy Field Planning to spend a romantic weekend with his long-distance boyfriend, Christi’s tender reunion is cut short when he is called in to handle a crisis at work. Christi is a member of the Bucharest police force, and his unit is sent to quell a protest at a local movie theater, where a far-right group has interrupted the screening of a queer film. As tensions between the homophobic protesters and the audience mount, Christi, closeted to his fellow officers, begins to spiral out of control when he spots a former fling in the crowd. A violent outburst threatens to expose Christi’s secret and forces him to confront the contradictions between his personal and professional life.
Inspired by true events, POPPY FIELD, the feature film debut of director Eugen Jebeleanu, “reveals aspects of the wider damage done by prejudice that are rarely seen onscreen” (Eye for Film) and is a “worthy entry into the Romanian New Wave” (Art House Street).
The film is split between two different types of cinematography. The opening is done in traditional still camera story format, where Christi reconnects with his boyfriend Hadi for a extended weekend visit. It appears his boyfriend works for an airline and is quite often travelling. When he suggests going away together and doing something different, Christi prefers to just stay within the safe confines of his apartment, most likely for fear of being seen in public with another man in his (still) homophobic country of Romania. One day, Christi’s sister shows up at the apartment with homemade food, but it’s more in the pretense of meeting Hadi. She seems accepting and wanting her brother to be happy, but he prefers she keep to herself. Upon leaving, she told him she wanted to come by to see how his “gay phase” was going.
The second part of the film is recorded in a more single shot, live action format, with cameras rolling on the confrontation within the theatre when protesters try to prevent a queer themed film from being shown. While the police try to remain calm and keep the peace, one of the theatre attendees recognizes Christi as a previous hook up, and provokes him to hit him. Chisti is told to remain in the theatre while the others try and resolve the issue. What comes out between all this is that some of the officers are already aware of his homosexuality, and don’t seem to have issue with it, although like Christi it’s not something that is spoken about openly.
It’s a slow moving movie that depicts an honest and open look at a country still struggling to accept homosexual lifestyle, most obviously borne from religious beliefs. In the end, one of Christi’s colleagues drops him off at home, knowing that he’s heading back to meet up with his boyfriend, and as Christi departs his colleague says in a most friendly manner, “Kisses.” This leaves viewers with hope that Christi will one day be able to be happy being himself, and that Romania will progressively advance its stance as well.
Available via virtual cinema, VOD, and digital from Film Movement
Eugen Jebeleanu is a Romanian theatre and film director. For more than ten years, his projects, both in theatre and cinema, have been centred around political and social subjects and his artistic endeavour is focused on giving voice to anonymous individuals, to those who don’t adhere to the dominant culture and revolt against systems which censor freedom of expression.
“The wish to make this film came as a natural expansion of my artistic interests and needs. It emerged from the necessity to give voice to vulnerable individuals and put under scrutiny the way in which society tends to vilify the idea of being different. It is exactly for this reason that I wanted this film to draw its inspiration from contemporary Romania, namely from the 2013 Bucharest protest during which the screening of an LGBT film in a cinema theatre was interrupted by conservative groups. This initial context created the premise to build a social fabric that anchors Cristi, a gay Romanian gendarme, in a complex domino effect related to his identity. Trying to adjust himself to the heteronormative exigencies of his surroundings, he embodies the conflict and the vulnerabilities of many LGBTQ+ people (from Romania or elsewhere). In other words, the social frame of the story triggers the inner conflict of the main character and forces him to confront himself in his attempt to regain his balance.”
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.