A Romanian Sci-Fi Adventure

The Romanian film poster for the 1984 animated science fiction fantasy DELTA SPACE MISSION.

In recent years streaming options for entertainment – movies, TV shows, music – have increased and become more commonplace in the average U.S. household but, at the same time, physical media like Blu-rays and DVD continues to prosper among movie lovers and film collectors. Specialty distributors like Severin Films, Vinegar Syndrome and Kino Lorber are releasing new acquisitions at an astonishing rate and obscure genre films and forgotten art house fare are suddenly available on Blu-ray in presentations that look better now than they did during their original theatrical release such as The Five Days (1973, Severin), cult director Dario Argento’s rare non-horror period piece, Ulli Lommell’s witchcraft thriller The Devonsville Terror (1983, Vinegar Syndrome) and Francois Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid (1969, Kino Lorber). Deaf Crocodile, a distributor based in Los Angeles, stands apart from its competitors for restoring and releasing movies from around the world that many film buffs never even knew existed. Among their recent releases are Zerograd (1988), an absurdist Soviet satire, The Unknown Man of Shandigor (1967) by Swiss filmmaker Jean-Louis Roy and Solomon King, a lost Blaxploitation indie from 1974. The real surprise for me, however, is Misiunea Spatiala Delta (English title: Delta Space Mission), an animated science fiction fantasy from Romania that was released in 1984.  

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Something is Rotten in Romania

If you are an avid follower of world news, you might remember a tragic event that occurred in Bucherest, Romania in October 2015 and became an international cause célèbre. A deadly fire broke out in the Colectiv nightclub, killing 27 people and injuring up to 180 others. The club, a converted former factory, was a literal death trap with no fire exits and only one door that was functioning at the time. The other door had to be broken down by panicking clubgoers in order to escape. What happened to at least 37 survivors of the fire was even worse. They died, not from severe burns, but from bacterial infections that could easily have been prevented if the burn centers hadn’t been staffed by inept health care workers, had the appropriate medical equipment to treat the cases and, most importantly, had used a potent disinfectant to prevent the spread of life-threatening bacteria. Alexander Nanau’s documentary Collective takes this tragedy as his starting point but soon uncovers a perfect storm scenario that reveals the terrible truth behind Romania’s health care system and it all adds up to widespread government corruption. 

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