Ion Caramitru

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Ion Caramitru
Born Ion Horia Leonida Caramitru
(1942-03-09) 9 March 1942 (age 72)
Bucharest, Romania
Occupation Actor, Theatre director, Political figure
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Micaela Caracaș

Ion Horia Leonida Caramitru (Romanian pronunciation: [iˈon karaˈmitru]; born March 9, 1942) is a Romanian stage and film actor, stage director, as well as a political figure. He was Minister of Culture between 1996 and 2000, in the Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR) cabinets of Victor Ciorbea, Gavril Dejeu, Radu Vasile, Alexandru Athanasiu, and Mugur Isărescu. Is married with actress Micaela Caracaș and have 3 boys: Ștefan, Andrei and Matei Caramitru.

Biography[edit]

Early life and acting career[edit]

Born to an Aromanian family in Bucharest, he graduated from the I. L. Caragiale Institute for Theater and Film Arts in 1964, having debuted on the stage a year earlier — with the title role in an acclaimed production of William Shakespeare's Hamlet for the Bulandra Theater. He continued his engagement for Bulandra while starring in plays at the National Theatre Bucharest and various other theaters.

Caramitru was a protagonist in a series of theatrical productions by directors such as Liviu Ciulei, Moni Ghelerter, Andrei Şerban, Liviu Purcărete, Sandra Manu, Cătălina Buzoianu, Alexandru Tocilescu, and Sică Alexandrescu (acting in plays such as Mihail Sebastian's Steaua fără nume, Georg Büchner's Danton's Death, Aeschylus' The Oresteia, Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, Carlo Goldoni's Il bugiardo, and in many of Shakespeare's works). As a director of theater, opera, and operetta productions, Caramitru notably staged works by Frederick Loewe (My Fair Lady), Marin Sorescu (The Third Stake), Benjamin Britten (The Little Sweep), Aleksei Nikolaevich Arbuzov (The Lie), and Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice); his adaptations of Peter Brook's La Tragédie de Carmen and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin were hosted by the Grand Opera House in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Caramitru starred in over 30 feature films, making his debut with a supporting role in Ciulei's Forest of the Hanged (1964). Among his best-known roles are Vive in Dimineţile unui băiat cuminte (1966), Gheorghidiu in Între oglinzi parallele (1978), Ştefan Luchian in Luchian (1981), and Socrate in the Liceenii series (1985–1987). Later in life, Caramitru has had minor roles in foreign films: he was an anarchist in the 1991 Kafka, Tatevsky in Citizen X (1995), Zozimov in Mission: Impossible (1996), Count Fontana in Amen. (2002), and a Bulgarian immigrant to Ireland in Adam & Paul (2004).

For his work in establishing British-Romanian cultural links, Caramitru was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 1997, the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

In May 2005, he won the competition for the head office of the National Theatre Bucharest, replacing Dinu Săraru.

Political career[edit]

Revolution[edit]

Caramitru entered political life as an opponent of the communist regime in the Romanian Revolution of 1989. On December 22, 1989, after President Nicolae Ceauşescu had fled Bucharest, Caramitru and the known dissident writer Mircea Dinescu joined the crowd occupying the Romanian Television building, and were prominent among the numerous speakers who were proclaiming revolutionary victory.[1]

A popular rumor circulating soon after the episode alleged that, unaware of being filmed, Caramitru had addressed Dinescu, saying, "Mircea, fă-te că lucrezi!" ("Mircea, pretend you are working!"); this version of events may have started as defamation by political adversaries, with the purpose of indicating that the Revolution was a carefully staged front for a coup d'état.[2] According to Alex Mihai Stoenescu's research, despite its passing into contemporary folklore, such a phrase was never uttered; instead, the words used were "Mircea, arăţi că lucrezi" ("Mircea, show that you are working on something" — while holding Dinescu's booklet in front of camera), to which Dinescu replied "La un apel" ("[I'm working] on an appeal [to the people]") — pointing rather to their ill-preparedness and their preoccupation in quickly drafting a proper document.[1]

FSN and CDR[edit]

He was an early member of the National Salvation Front (FSN) Council, the government formed around Ion Iliescu, where he was in charge of Culture. After the elections of 1990, as the FSN become a political party, he withdrew from the body in protest, arguing that the Iliescu grouping was attempting to use executive power and prestige in order to monopolize power (the gesture was preceded by the resignation of other intellectuals present in the FSN Council, including Doina Cornea and Ana Blandiana).[3] Already a member of the Civic Alliance Foundation, he joined the National Peasants' Party, which engaged in opposition to the FSN, and became Minister of Culture after the CDR coalition won the elections of 1996.

Following the defeat in the 2000 elections and the party's breakup, he remained a member of the main PNŢ wing, the Christian-Democratic People's Party (PPCD). Caramitru opposed the PPCD leader Gheorghe Ciuhandu on several grounds, including the merger with the Union for Romanian Reconstruction;[4] he advocated a reconciliation with former president Constantinescu,[4] and was among the PPCD members to declare themselves alarmed by the possibility of Ioan Talpeş joining the party (Talpeş, who had left the PSD, had served as head of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service in 1992-1997).[5] In February 2006, he handed in his resignation as vice-president of the PPCD.[4]

Other causes[edit]

In the early 1990s, arguing that the granting of revolutionary diplomas and privileges had become an instrument of corruption, Caramitru, together with other revolutionaries and dissidents (Victor Rebengiuc, Dan Pavel, Radu Filipescu, and Costică Canacheu), formed the non-governmental organization Asociaţia Revoluţionarilor fără Privilegii (the Association of Non-Privileged Revolutionaries).[6]

A noted figure within the Aromanian community, Caramitru has also founded Societatea de Cultură Macedo-Română, which is currently involved in a debate with Comunitatea Aromână din România (CAR): Caramitru and his supporters argue that Aromanians are a branch of the Romanians, whereas CAR campaigns for their recognition as an ethnic minority (with automatic representation in the Parliament of Romania).[7]

In 2006, during a visit in Moldova, Caramitru claimed that Moldova is still a part of Romania, leading to a diplomatic row between Romania and Moldova and Caramitru being declared a "persona non grata" in Moldova.[8][9]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stoenescu
  2. ^ Preda; Stoenescu
  3. ^ Bozóki; Roşca Stănescu
  4. ^ a b c "Caramitru se cere..."
  5. ^ Brăileanu, "Ţărănistul Ioan Talpeş"
  6. ^ Brăileanu, "Disidenţă..."
  7. ^ Herţa
  8. ^ "Autorităţile Moldovei acuză din nou România", BBC, December 5, 2006
  9. ^ "Caramitru: „Băsescu ar trebui să-i răspundă lui Voronin”", Evenimentul Zilei, April 13, 2009

External links[edit]