Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF) was full of surprises this year, offering a great selection of movies and special events. I’m pretty sure that most of the highlights of this edition already appeared in your newsfeed, whether Facebook, Instagram or mass media. While enjoying the most important film festival of the country, I was wondering how TIFF is seen exclusively through the camera’s lens – and most important, how is like to be on duty for this rollercoaster of amazing events. So the communication department of TIFF allowed me to interview those who photograph experiences, moments and historical moments. So let’s go behind the scene with Marius Maris, who’s new to the TIFF team.

What does it mean to be the official photographer of the festival?

It’s a challenge, at least that’s what it meant to me. It was the first film festival I’ve ever shot with my camera. Under no circumstances did I know what to expect, what’s going to happen. Generally, when it comes to festivals, I photograph the music, I like to capture the energy, the emotions of the people. At TIFF I gave up to a bit of energy to capture with much more emotion, more diversity, more intensity. Of course, all these came with more hours of no sleep than I expected and certainly more responsibility. That’s about being an official photographer, living the experience in the middle of the action, and understanding in one way or another everything that’s going on around you. Also, the fact that you’re on your own ‘s catching up the sunrise while editing photos on your laptop in downtown Cluj, when the city is “naked by the people.”

What was your most amazing experience this year at the festival? Why?

When it comes to a festival, a question like this one seems to be just as philosophical as a “what is happiness” one. Happiness is a festival, that’s clear. And it’s very hard to think about which moment of it made you the happiest. There was a lot. Starting with the romantic moments from the Banffy castle courtyard at the “Roar” projection, until Simona Halep’s play, which turned tennis into an artistic film in just a few minutes. From movies where people would have paid a ticket even for standing up to the coolest outdoor parties. I think none of these events is the most amazing one by itself. I think what’s special to TIFF is how it combines all this stuff in just 10 days, days which become WOW.

Is there a moment of the festival which you wanted to capture but you couldn’t, for whatever reason?

I would have liked to be able to capture more of what was happening behind the festival’s seen scenes. Some magic that volunteers create. There are many people who put their soul in order to move like this a festival and I think sometimes they should get out in front. I always thought volunteers were the most beautiful people in a festival, but somehow invisible. It’s our job to paint them in pixels.

What’s your favorite photo you have taken at this edition of the festival? Why?

On body and soul / photo Marius Matis

On body and soul / photo Marius Matis

I have 11 favorite photos. I had to choose one of them. I’ve always said, “If you want to make a photographer go into depression, you just have to make a selection of his photos.” I picked this photo from “On Body and Soul”. I do not know if it’s my favorite photo from TIFF, but it’s definitely the photo that reflects the most of TIFF. And not necessarily as a festival, but as a reason to gather together hundreds of different people who have in common a few thousand lumens designed on a white wall. That’s cinema. A white wall that has the power to inspire, to excite, to change. It’s about people who do not need chairs to look at a movie, the people who are lying on the aisle just to be permeated by this movie through “body and soul.” And I’m just glad I was able to surprise that. This picture of mine is about people in front of the screen and behind it. Because they are the people who live the emotion, and when I review my photos, I have the same emotion as those who see the movie.

Doing photography is an art by itself, so it’s not really easy to be done. But what’s the most joyful (trying to avoid the easy word) moment for you as an official photographer?

There are two most beautiful moments when you are an official photographer. The moment the festival begins and you step into the story. When you’re just waiting to start capturing what’s going to happen. Then it’s when the festival ends, when you look at all the photos you’ve done. When you dismantle your camera and put it in your backpack, when you’re just waiting to get home to sleep. Oh, and there is another moment when few weeks when the TIFF has passed,  an unknown person tells you that the photo you did is great. These people confirm that what you are doing is really important and that it is worth taking your camera to the next festival.