Female Stardom in Contemporary Romanian New Wave Cinema: Unglamour?
Abstract: This article analyses film roles, red-carpet appearances and nonfilmic performances of three of the most well-known and admired actresses of the Romanian New Wave (Luminița Gheorghiu, Maria Popistașu and Anamaria Marinca). Their unglamorous female stardom is paradoxical if considered from the standpoint of mainstream/dominant cinema and the tradition described by Jackie Stacey as “[t]he ‘visual pleasure’ offered by the glamour and sexual appeal of Hollywood stars” (159). Aspects such as the major contradiction between screen role and screen persona, or the lack of ideal(istic) images offered to the audience are theorised on the basis of Christine Gledhill’s and Richard Dyer’s models, Anne Morey’s term of “the elegiac female grotesque” and Ana Salzberg’s concept of narcissistic Hollywood female stardom and embodied experience (107). The coherence of unglamorous female stardom as a real-life discursive construct emerges in the article through the consideration of Romanian New Wave cinema–similarly to 1970s-1980s New Indian Cinema in which unglamorous female stars existed (Gandhy-Thomas)–as a peripheral cinematic formation defined by a specific relation to glamour and consumption (Dyer, Gundle). Furthermore, the article suggests that this coherence is dependent on considering the production context of the Romanian New Wave in the framework of small national European cinemas (Hjort and Petrie, Soila), while emphasising the lack of integrated studio background (Haskell) and the fact that its female stars have been conditioned by postcommunist possibilities to articulate female public identities (Pasca Harsanyi, Roman).