"Children Underground," a 2001 documentary by 1997 SIPA graduate Edet Belzberg, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature. The film chronicles the lives of five Romanian orphans who are among Bucharest's more than 20,000 homeless children. The Academy Awards presentation will be held on March 24.
The film captures one of the lingering consequences of the Ceausescu regime, which banned contraception and abortion in order to increase Romania's work force. The ban resulted in the births of thousands of unwanted children born to impoverished parents who could not care for them. Romania remains one Eastern Europe's poorest countries. Belzberg spent two months following the five children featured in the 108-minute film, which took nearly four years to make.
" 'Children Underground' goes out of its way not to sentimentalize its subjects," the New York Times wrote in a Sept. 2001 review of the film. "Its visual rhythms are harsh and jagged."
"Children Underground," Belzberg's first film, won a special jury prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where it debuted last year.