A Higher Law (Balaur)
Official Selection 123' - 2021 - Thriller - Dialogue: Romanian
Director: Octav Chelaru Composer: Martin Kohlstedt With: Mãlina Manovici, Alexandru Papadopol, Sergiu Smerea
In A Higher Law, a high school Religion teacher fights against her faltering faith, a suffocating marriage and mutual feelings for a student in love. For a feature debut, this Romanian drama looks remarkably mature.
In Romanian folklore, the Balaur is a many-headed dragon that symbolises Evil to be overcome by the hero of the story. In the film, this translates to a dark study of the impasse within the religious teacher Ecaterina. She believes that every person is free to choose, but is herself unhappy with her life as the wife of the local priest. Wrestling with the question of whether freedom is compatible with faith, Ecaterina finds herself attracted to one of her pupils, the sixteen-year-old Iuliu, who falls hopelessly in love with her. Their initial little secrets and lies threaten to take on monstrous proportions. For his first feature film, which can rely on strong performances, director Octav Chelaru himself wrote the intriguing screenplay. Those familiar with Romanian cinema of the past two decades know that it rarely disappoints.
“Transgression carries a crushing price tag in A Higher Law (Balaur), Octav Chelaru’s intense, carefully calibrated debut feature which follows a woman torn between freedom and faith as she strays from a suffocating marriage.” Screen Daily
Mãlina Manovici, Alexandru Papadopol, Sergiu Smerea
Director of Photography
Countries of production
Romania, Germany, Serbia
False Positive (short, 2014), Occupied (short, 2015), Private Party (2017), Black Clothes (short, 2017), The Parallel State (short, 2020), A Higher Law (short, 2021)