Romanian director Mihai Mincan debuts his first feature fiction film at Venice Film Festival this year. An ambitious story based on true events that happened almost twenty years ago, but still feel just as relevant today.

The film opens with two men in wild waters, grasping onto floating barrels. They look petrified, and most likely know there’s no positive outcome regarding their situation. We then switch to two friends playing a game of improvised football while walking across a bridge in the middle of the night. The Bulgarian Georgi (Dimitar Vasilev) and Romanian Dumitru (Nikolai Becker) are on their way to illegally board a containership. With their dream of making it big in the USA, their fear takes the backseat, even though it becomes quite clear early on they didn’t anticipate the setbacks they’re about to experience.

Crew member Joel (Soliman Cruz), Filipino and devoted Christian, discovers Dumitru’s hiding spot between the containers, and decides to help him hide from the captain, who has his own way to get rid of stowaways… This marks the beginning of a stressful and intense voyage in which power dynamics and the battle between good and evil take centre stage.

Mincan’s screenplay is a daring and unflinching representation of the things that can happen in international waters. It’s a story about moral choices, kindness and compromise, courage and fear. Something that speaks to everyone. It pushes the boundaries of which we are willing to go beyond the things we see as good or evil, in order to reach our destiny – no matter the outcome. But what if the person facing us isn’t willing to give up what they believe is right?

To the North is a compelling tale that leaves you wondering far after the credits finished rolling.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), September 6, 2022. Running time: 122 min.

PRODUCTION: A deFilm, Remora Films, StudioBauhaus, Screening Emotions & Background Films production. Producers: Poli Angelova, Cyriac Auriol, Ioana Lascar, Mikulas Novotny, Radu Stancu, Nickolay Todorov & Konstantinos Vassilaros. Executive producer: Ramona Grama.

CREW: Director/writer: Mihai Mincan. Cinematography: George Chiper-Lillemark. Editing: Dragoș Apetri. Music: Marius Lefta ̆rache featuring Alessandro Cortini.

CAST: Soliman Cruz, Nikolai Becker, Bartholome Guingona, Olivier Ho Hio Hen, Emmanuel Sto. Domingo, Alexandre Nguyen, Dimitar Vasilev.

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