Growing up in St. Louis holds very fond childhood memories for me. One of the things that was soooo much fun was when my parents and their friends would have a night out on the town. What that meant is that my brother and I got to spend the night with our cousins for the weekend. We would all pile up in one bed..sometimes as many as six of us laughing and playing throughout the night. Completely sleep deprived the next day, we would stumble through getting dressed for church with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and preparing to sing in the "sunshine band".
Unfortunately, for children in many other countries, piling in bed is a necessity...not a luxury activity.
Georgiana Halmac turns 15 this winter and lives with her six brothers and sisters in a social housing condo on the outskirts of Bacau, Romania. With their mother forced to leave the family behind and go to Italy to earn money, Georgiana has been catapulted into the role of matriarch. Caught between her adolescence and adulthood, Georgiana navigates it all through phone conversations with her Mom guiding her along the way.
Ironically, this documentation is basically history repeating itself. Filmmaker and Director Teodora Ana Mihai's parents left her behind at seven years old in order to flee the Ceausescu regime in Romania. Eventually, they were granted asylum in Belgium after leaving their daughter behind for a year.
Therefore, Waiting For August is an intensely personal film for Mihai. "I thought it was time to talk about it...I don't know one Romanian family that doesn't have someone abroad. Someone is always somewhere sending money back. It can break these families, and that is just incredibly sad".
My heart broke for Georgiana in the moment she was preparing to hang out with her friends and endured her younger siblings weeping as she walked out the door. With the Mom and Dad being absent, they probably felt like she would leave and not come back. What a huge burden of guilt for such a young, vibrant teen.
The story of Waiting for August hasn't ended just because the film is completed. Summer of 2013, Mihai invited Georgiana to visit her in Belgium and took her to visit Paris. Mihai says, "I just wanted to thank her and give her an opportunity to be able to do something she would not otherwise be able to do".
Waiting For August is screening in New York on October 10th and in Santa Monica on October 15th. For more up-to-date info regarding screenings, please log onto www.waitingforaugust.be