Scene from the film Birds Way
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Birds Way

  • Romania

It never happened before that the Old Believer community of Periprava (Danube Delta, Romania) did not have a priest - the most important leader of their traditional community. The continuity of such leadership has been kept throughout centuries without the help of any institution: Lipovan priests have always emerged from among the villagers and were educated within the community, with the help of the elders – until now.

The last priest of Periprava lays in bed for more than a year already, and the person chosen by the community as a replacement refused to become priest. A young boy trained now on the expense of the entire community cannot find a wife, the indispensable condition for priesthood. The village is desperate…

The story takes place in the picturesque, isolated scenery of the Danube Delta in Romania. The protagonist is a Russian Lipovan community chased away from Russia three hundred years ago for not accepting the religious reforms of 1666. They found refuge in the Delta where they kept their language, rituals ever since... up to now.

Today they have to face new problems: the absence of a religious leader, the migration of the youth, the intrusion of new colonizers… Their last 'reader' and storyteller, 75-year-old Artiom tells us the destiny of Old Believers as laid out in the Book.

The testimonies of these Old Believers about recent transformations, dying religion and their struggle to preserve archaic traditions reveal the vulnerability of a traditional community – with poetry and humour.

„The film is crafted with sensitivity and a beautiful understanding of the power of the visual image to reflect the passage of time, space and communal memory, and ends on a charming and hopeful message for the future. Filmed with respect over three years, Birds Way penetrates the life of a vanishing minority in the historical context of today’s Romania“. (Jury Astra Film Festival, Best Romanian Documentary – 2009 November)

„A pleasure to watch and learn from this fine observational documentary… and my congratulations to the directors for making a theme so far away from my urban jungle up in the Northern Europe – interesting, fascinating, warm and human. Why? Because of their obvious long stay down there close to the Danube where mostly old people live, close to their religion and language and rituals. The people in the film have found the filmmakers trustworthy and invited them into their houses… The generous answer given to this hospitality and openness comes out in an amazing cinematography by Trencsenyi, who catches the simple life and its beauty with respect and love... “ (Tue Steen Müller – Filmkommentaren, Denmark)


  • Original Title
    Birds Way
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
    Klára Trencsényi
  • Cinematography
    Klára Trencsényi
  • Editing
    Bence Bartos, Tudor Petre
  • Music
  • Sound
    Vlad Voinescu
  • Runtime
    56 min (46-90 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • Romania
  • Format
    • Colour
  • Festivals
    • First Anthropological Film Festival, Jerusalem, November 2011
    • 12th Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, London, June 2011
    • South East European Film Festival, Los Angeles, April-May 2011
    • Russian Anthropological Film Festival, Yekaterinburg, Apr 2011
    • ETNOFILM Festival, Rovinj, Croatia, 8-10 Apr 2011
    • Worldfilm 2011 - Tartu Festival of Visual Culture, Estonia, March 2011
    • Days of Ethnographic Film, Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 2011
    • Trento Film Festival, Italy - EURORAMA, May 2010
    • Romanian Film Festival, London, UK July 2010
    • Independent Producers International Film Festival, Romania, Constanta, June-July 2010
    • ICFF "Manaki Brothers" Republic of Macedonia, Bitola, Oct 2010
    • MEDIAWAVE International Film and Music Festival, Hungary, 2010
    • Romanian - Hungarian Film Festival (Film.Dok), Miercurea Ciuc, Romania, 2010
    • Iasi International Film Festival, October 2010
    • Festival Anonimul, Danube Delta, August 2010
    • ASTRA Film Festival, Sibiu, Romania, 2009
  • Awards
    • Special Mention of the Jury:
    • 12th Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival, London, 2011
    • Best film made by an anthropologist:
    • ETNOFILM Festival, Rovinj, Croatia, 8-10 Apr 2011
    • Best Director Award:
    • MEDIAWAVE International Film and Music Festival, Hungary, 2010
    • Special Jury Prize:
    • Romanian - Hungarian Film Festival (Film.Dok), Miercurea Ciuc, Romania, 2010
    • Best Romanian Documentary:
    • ASTRA Film Festival, Sibiu, Romania, 2009 is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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