Aurel Marton has spent more than 20 years in detention. He now strives to lead a normal life with his family. The story of his life and, especially, his love for abandoned animals, attracted the attention of director Mihai Dragolea, who distributed it in his new short film.
“Aurica, Dog Life” is a hybrid project, where fiction meets the documentary, being inspired by a real case about a prisoner who escaped and lived for three months in a cornfield, but also by the story of Aurel Marton, a 50-year-old man from Galaţi, who spent almost half his life in correctional schools and prisons.
Mihai Dragolea, known for the strength of the stories in his films, involved in the case of illegal logging in Vatra Dornei, Suceava, in September 2021, when he was severely beaten while filming a documentary with his colleague Radu Mocanu and environmental activist Tiberiu Bosutar, he was drawn to the story of Aurel Marton, whom he met at a dog shelter (Bruno Shelter), where he brought abandoned animals to the field.
“As a director, I am very inspired by my experiences, one of which is the work I do at Bruno Shelter. I take care of the animals there and interact with the people who help us, that’s how I became friends with Aurel Marton, the protagonist of the film. He would shelter the puppies or cats he found in the field. I was impressed by his empathetic act and began to imagine a story. I tried to show that animals feel just like us, they can find themselves in extreme situations that are hard to escape and sometimes they are the best beings we spend our time with. Eli and Mihai, the founders of Bruno Shelter, liked the idea and we discussed how we can say it and it looks better. We know that after the abandonment of animals, violence against animals is a big problem, so we built the narrative around this reality “, says Mihai Dragolea.
“It seems to me that Aurel Marton’s past can be a source of inspiration. I wanted to show how a man who escapes from prison, and implicitly from civilized society, has the ability to identify with an animal, to build a friendly relationship with it, acting accordingly. I chose Aurel for the fact that he works a lot in the field, he has an impressive physique and a fascinating expression. For 20 years, he has been living in a village near Bucharest, with his family, trying to lead a normal life, but the inability of the Romanian judicial system to prosecute and rehabilitate his criminal record has condemned him to daily physical labor. They make money by digging ditches, digging pits for foundations, working in construction, clearing abandoned land and collecting iron from other people’s waste, and employers avoid working with a man with a full record and ignoring the fact that most of the acts were committed. for many years. At 50, he manages to do it all, but the time to retire is approaching, so he has to think about a safe job. After filming the short film Aurică, dog life, we decided to help him rehabilitate his criminal record. We hope to succeed, given the fact that it had to be rehabilitated many years ago “, adds Mihai Dragolea about the protagonist of his film.
The short film “Aurica, Dog Life” was made independently, in collaboration with the Vagabond Film production company and the Bruno Shelter dog shelter. The screenplay was developed at the Berlinale Talents Sarajevo 2021, in the Script Station section, and completed at FILM +, the program to support low-budget independent film productions.
Mihai Dragolea has made films that have premiered at major film festivals in Europe and have won numerous awards: “Golden Robot” (2015), “PhoeniXXX” (2017), “Everything for Riana” (2020). He teaches Documentary Practice at the Faculty of Theater and Film of Babeş-Bolyai University and acts independently or together with environmental and ecological organizations, one of his most recent projects being the afforestation of an inherited land.
Currently, Mihai Dragolea is working, together with Radu Mocanu, on the documentary “After the stumps”, produced by Monica Lăzurean Gorgan, of which a fragment was recently presented at the One World Romania festival, in the Work-in-progress section.
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