Romania, France, Germany


When a child steals candles from the cemetery, in order to provide some light means for his family sheltered into a damp basement of a block of flats, this circumstance can say a lot about the sufferance imposed by transition period of time in Romania.
This child is one of the seven that Maria has got. She is a 33 years old ordinary woman, whose husband (Ion) is unemployed and has become a drunkard and violently acting, maybe because of his despairing and lack of prospective. Of course, Maria and Ion used to love each other once. But now, the seventh child of theirs would be born to live in the darkness, pain and fights Maria tries finding some work. But nobody helps her. Only her kind-hearted neighbor's (Mala) generosity supports her in surviving from one day to the other. The few money that she has are brutally snatched from her, as beaten and sworn at by Ion, who wastes most of his time into a suburb tavern, where, while brutified by too much drinking, he keeps on complaining about being unemployed. Since the factory's shutting down, Milco, Ion's colleague at the factory and his best friend goes on permanently thinking about starting some businesses (that are in fact both illusory and ridiculous). However, does not even want to listen to Milco's plans. One day, while dead drunk, Ion simply and entirely destroys a bar; therefore police seizes him. After being released from prison, Ion packs his luggage and leaves for the countryside at his parents, accompanied by Milco.
Where could then Maria find any comfort? Only in her faith in God. The church mass makes her stronger and gives her courage. May be something beautiful would finally occur into her life. A nun tries to help her by proposing Maria to sell her child the newborn one. Anyway, Maria could never ever accept selling her baby. She would rather sell herself.
At this moment, her destiny forces her into totally changing her life. In order to earn a living for her children, Maria becomes a prostitute, so hitching the drivers of international trucks passing by the town. The experiences that she undertakes meanwhile are sheer shocking: from men that pushes her away without paying her services to a Turk driver that understands her drama and helps her. Together with another prostitutes, Maria is taken at police headquarters. There she would calmly explain why she has become a prostitute. Her confession is very touching. Policemen have seized not a prostitute, but a mother who would put herself to any sacrifice for her children. Thus Maria becomes a real case. The neighbors, once merciful to her, would blame her. Maria remains alone and confronting all the upbraiding, gossips and life's hardships. Her story would be widely spread by a TV broadcast.
Through that film, the Mayor would find out Maria's story and decides to help her. At first, Maria can hardly believe that. She has got used not hope anything good in her life. However, a car will come to transport her to the City Hall, where she is supposed to receive the keys from her new apartment. Ion watches the TV news and comes back home.
Maria is happy, but...

Director's Statement

MARIA is a film that presents a destiny. In a desperate situation, a woman chooses prostitution as a last-ditch solution to fend for her seven children. Beyond the implications of this case (real) the film also depicts the struggle against the adversities of a seemingly never-ending, most scarring transition. Ion (Maria's husband), Milco, Mala are characters who try to make a change in their lives. In fact, for them this change means nothing more than survival.
Unemployed people, prostitutes who accost truckers at road junctures, tenants of flats who can no longer pay for their maintenance, two-bit crooks, all live a chaotic, ruthless, most of the time unfair life. Still, responsibility, friendship, and even love are not absent from the picture. Yet none of the characters can actually alter their destiny. With the exception of MARIA. Moved by her plight, the authorities decide to come to her assistance. But this tiny flicker of hope soon dies out. And disappointment turns to tragedy. MARIA will pay with her life for a moment of dignity.
The film brings into the limelight a "tragic" guilt that in a way is redeemed by the power of sacrifice.

Director's Biography

PETER CALIN NETZER was born on May, 1, 1975, in Petrosani, Romania.
In 1983, he immigrated to Germany together with his parents.
From 1984 he has been living in Stuttgart where he graduated from elementary school and high school.
After taking his school/leaving diploma, in 1994, he started the courses of the Theatre and Film University of Bucharest, Romania, Film Direction Department, and in 1999 he obtained a diploma as film director.


1997 MARIA

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Calin-Peter Netzer

Written by: Gordan Mihic, Calin-Peter Netzer

Produced by: Adrian Popovici

Cinematography: Mihail Sarbusca

Editing: Melania Oproiu

Production Design: Alexandru Zidaru

Costume Design: Alexandru Zidaru

Make-Up & Hair: Raluca Badea

Original Score: Petru Margineanu

Sound Design: Constantin Fleancu , Cristian Tarnovetchi

Cast: Magda Catone (Tena), Diana Dumbrava (Maria), Rona Hartner (Nuti), Ana Ularu (Ioana ), Ionut Brutaru (Costin), Eduard Paliu (Nicolae), Serban Ionescu (Ion), Horatiu Malaele (Milco), Luminita Gheorghiu (Mala)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2003
  • Feature Film Selection 2003