VSLO photo and film festival lights up Romania’s Black Sea coast

by Sean Hillen

First there was a national Romanian folk music weekend, then an exciting salsa festival, now at the nation’s trendiest bohemian Black Sea resort, Vama Veche, it’s the turn of the annual international feast of visual arts, Vama Sub Lumini De Oscar (VSLO) organized under the direction of talented Catalin Rudolf.

This packed, week-long event comprises almost every aspect of the art of photography and film, both for raw beginners and experienced veteran ‘shooters,’ from capturing the best of fine nude images to news photography, landscapes, portraits, documentary-making, and even taking better photos with cameras on mobile phones.

Vama Veche festivals, photography festivals

(l to r) Catalin Rudolf and Chris Suspect working closely together (Photo courtesy of VSLO)

Practical workshops range from conceptual photography, nude portraiture, landscape, street and wedding photography, and even, intriguingly ‘mud photography’ involving 4×4 wheeled-vehicles.

Complementing the many seminars and workshops are special photo exhibitions on subjects as varied as an innovative project matching photos with all the letters of the Swedish alphabet; political photography; underwater imagery; hardcore and punk music bands from Baltimore and Washington DC; and railway station people portraits.

VSLO Vama Veche, Vama sub Lumini de Oscar

Attentive participants during a VSLO workshop this week (Photo courtesy of VSLO)

VSLO also provides hands-on guidance from experts to those participants interested in making quality documentaries, as well as painting and music workshops, including percussion instruments djembe drums, boomwhackers and shekere.

And if that’s not enough, there’s also outdoor screenings of short and full-length documentaries and movies every evening at several different locations including the beachbars-cum-restaurants AcvaMarin, Acolo and Papa la Soni in Vama Veche and 2Mai, close to the Bulgarian border. The shows include ‘2000 Days on Earth’ about leading Australian singer, composer and song-writer, Nick Cave, focusing on the definition, pursuit and achievement of pure creativity; ‘Palme d’Or winning movie, ‘I, Daniel Blake,’ directed by Ken Loach, about a man battling the social services system for help in England; ‘The Skin I Live In,’ directed by Spanish director, Pablo Almodovar, and featuring Antonio Banderas and Elena Anaya; as well as ‘No Limits,’ a documentary about Alex Zanardi, a former Italian Formula One racing driver who attracted huge admiration worldwide for returning to competition just two years after losing both his legs in a car crash, then won multiple medals, including gold, at the Olympics in handcycling, a form of paralympic cycling.

documentary film Vama Veche, what's on in Vama Veche

Experienced Michail Moscholios passes on precious advice to participants (Photo courtesy of VSLO)

Among the many highlights of the week’s activities, which ends this Sunday (August 27), are an exhibition entitled, ‘Un an. Un om. O provocare’ (‘One year. One man. One challenge’) together with a special presentation by leading photographer, Steluta Popescu, following her role as official photographer for former Romanian Prime Minister, Dacian Ciolos. This highly-specialized type of photography is referred to in the VSLO brochure as ‘fata morgana’ and Steluta will no doubt explain fully this Saturday evening.

Other speakers include Cristian Vasile on exploring Bucharest photographically; Chris Suspect, with ‘Un-Presidented – Photography of Protest,’ talking about his experiences shooting anti-Donald Trump protests in the US; Olav Urdahl, discussing documentary photography; and Iris Tusa, with a presentation on women photographers.

Andreea and Catalin Rudolf, VSLO Romania

Happy Andreea Han Rudolf, coordinator of VSLO, shows how playing with a camera can be so much fun (Photo courtesy of VSLO)

Hurry along. There are still six days left. Good news: its free for all participants. Main sponsors of Vama Sub Lumini De Oscar this year are Olympus and Canon.

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