the Romanian gymnastics program was still plenty brutal, even after Bela
Karolyi’s defection. Of course, that should not surprise anyone, considering
who was ultimately in charge. Ella Cojocaru survived the Romanian junior national
team’s training regime during the waning days of Ceausescu, but only later
found inner peace as an adult in the West, with a little help from the East.
Cojocaru revisits the toxic gymnastics of her past and explains the healing
power of yoga in Rita Baghdadi & Jeremiah Hammerling’s short but on-point Not So Namaste, which screens during
this year’s DOC NYC.
Namaste could easily be
much longer, leading one to wonder if it is a proof of concept production.
Regardless, Cojocaru’s recollections of growing up in the years leading up to
the 1989 Revolution are dramatic and valuable. At first, she had a passion for
the sport, but it was literally beaten out of her. However, her mother would not
let her quit, because it Olympic glory was one of the few means to a better
life under the Socialist regime.
In a way, Namaste
is like a short video postscript to Little
Girls in Pretty Boxes. It also provides an empowering ending for a change. Cojocaru
is a charismatic and forthcoming subject, while co-director Hammerling’s
black-and-white cinematography gives it all a classy look. Festival programmers
in particular ought to give it a try, because it could easily be coupled with sports
films or Cold War Era documentaries. Recommended for both audiences, it screens
tomorrow (11/19) as part of the Shorts: From
There to Here block at DOC NYC 2015.
Labels: DOC NYC '15, Documentary, Short Films