The World According to Ion B

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Production data

Documentary film
Format: HD
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Sound: Dolby Stereo
Language: Romanian (English subtitles)
Length: 60’ 
59 shooting days between April 2008 - June 2009



The film follows in real life the dream of any man living on the streets: to one day become famous and leave behind a life of poverty, misery and humiliation. Ion Barladeanu is on his way to becoming an important contemporary artist, but in May 2008 he was still an anonymus tramp on the streets of Bucharest.


The Story

Ion Barladeanu is a 62 years old homeless man. He sleeps on a filthy mattress at the end of a garbage chute of a bloc on Calea Mosilor, in exchange for sorting the garbage of the landlords. In “his home”, Ion recovers what falls next to his mattress, this way ending up reading all the books, magazines and newspapers that the others get rid of.

When he was young, Ion was dreaming about becoming a film director. In the 70\\\'s he started to create collages that he refers to as "my films", but this is a secret he only shares with people intelligent enough to understand and appreciate his works. He doesn\\\'t care about getting rich, he only wants a simple bicycle. 

Dan Popescu is a young gallery owner that has accidentally heard about Ion Barladeanu and decided to visit him. He was overwhelmed by more than 800 collages, made by the homeless artist between the ’70s and the ’90s. Those were times when such art manifestations were forbidden and totally inaccessible to Romanians. Ironically, this self-taught man is convinced that he invented collage, since he has never seen this art form before. 

At 62, Barladeanu exhibited in Bucharest for the first time 20 political works.

Popescu found him a new house to live and work, but Ion moved after a few months, as he found it very hard to leave his “home” by the garbage chute. Ion started to work on new collages that, like the old ones, recover the past through the artist’s personal experiences or through his own point of view. One can see traces of his experience as a grave digger or his experience in jail.

Ion visits his hometown and meets his family after 20 years. He had escaped this village, running away from a family that wanted him to become a communist worker, considering him an “useless crazy guy”.

Popescu prepares Ion’s first international exhibitions in Basel, London and Paris.


Director\\\'s note

At first I saw pictures of Ion Barladeanu’s works and was impressed by their cinematic quality. When I heard his life story, I decided to explore the personality and work of this rare self-taught artist, shaped in the undergrounds of a totalitarian regime.

There is a fascination around people living at the borders of society, living a life that bypasses conventions and comforts. These people often become the creators of a critical discourse, the cynics, the eccentrics. In Shakespeare’s plays, the fools always have the important role of unveiling the truth in the drama. Ion Barladeanu seemed to me the eccentric with the Shakespearean fools’ qualities. He was never an “honourable citizen” and remained, at the same time, both  outside and inside the society. He created his art in an isolated environment. Critics, trends, market or any other outside expectations or comparisons haven’t influenced his craft. Today Ion could represent a rare phenomenon compared to the established art market where artists are hyped and “corrupted” from the very beginning of their artistic manifestation, starting with their institutional education. 

"The world according to Ion B." is for me a way of exploring the question of what is art in in its pure form and what is a pure artist. 

There was another attraction to Ion’s story for me as a filmmaker, an attraction that derived from often hearing but never actually seeing that “real talent will always come through, no matter under which conditions!” 

Ion Barladeanu has always been in love with films and when he was young he dreamed of becoming a filmmaker. He made his wish come true and invented his own medium for telling stories in a cinematic manner with little or no resources. Ion has worked with all the great stars in film history. From Chaplin and Liz Taylor to Alain Delon, from Brigitte Bardot to Sylvester Stallone, all big actors starred in the films Ion B directed. He cut them off newspapers and magazines and casted them in his collages. Just like films, his collages are of various genres, tell complex stories and develop characters in a universal language.  

Ion B. made the dream of any filmmaker come true: all his "films" are easy to understand for people from different generations, cultures or educational backgrounds. 


The Story

Ion Barladeanu is born in 1946 in the village Zapodeni, Vaslui county. He escaped his native village at 20, and during the communist regime he tried all possible jobs. Starting in the Danube Delta, he worked as a docker in Constanta. In Bucharest he was a grave digger, wood cutter, guardian or simple worker at the People’s Palace. After 1989 he had marginal ways to earn his living, sorting, like a free lancer, the garbage of a bloc on Calea Mosilor. For more than 30 years, Ion Barladeanu selected and cut images from magazines and realized more than 1 000 collages. From 2008, he is represented by H’Art Gallery, and his works have started an international career, being exhibited in London, Copenhagen, Basel, Paris. 


The Art

“Ion Barladeanu created through many years his great art project that he only shows to a few “intelligent people”. He did what, in my opinion, metaphorically or literally, every artist should do: take the risky road into no man’s land where every society throws its masks away: the dump. Throughout his existence Ion Barladeanu selected magazine images and made a series of unique collages. All of them had a cinematographic intention. He started with a native talent in drawing and, with his passion for movie making; he created an imaginary, proto-pop world which came 20 years before the possibility of reception from the Romanian public. In Romania, the pop aesthetics is a post-communist reality and it is a direct consequence of the consumerist society. With little or no resources, Barladeanu creates a cinematic photogram that tells a complete story. All his collages are a very special hybrid between pop art, with a surrealist touch and dada. Add a little flavor of communist gulag in which films and brands symbolized possibilities of freedom.” Dan Popescu



Realpolitik- 16 May 2008, Bucharest

The exhibition presents a series of political collages, made after 1989. Chronologically they are the newest, made between 1990 and 1996, as a cynical critique towards the all the “leaders” of the Romanian politics, that wandered around the public sphere. Ceau?escu has a special place, but post-communism is also represented by Iliescu, Constantinescu, Funar, Petre Roman or Adrian P?unescu. Through out his life, Ion Bîrl?deanu chose liberty and despised all types of conventional authority. In his collages he built an imaginary arena where he was always victorious, where hypocrisy stood defeated in the cheers of the crowds, and where the humanist-ironical scenario was played over and over again.

A week before the opening, M. Ion showed me some things that he considers some sort of „imitation” art, but which, for me, is the missing link in his artistic project. In the 70s, during his commute to the ship yard, he used to carve in wood, all sorts of logos. Through all this fascinating objects, I found a wooden communist medal. It is a replica of the “hero of socialist labor”. It was made by M. Ion at the beginning of his career but he will now wear it proudly like a gladiator showing his wooden gladius as a sign of the freedom he earned in the arena.




Grand Prix - Golden Apricot 2011, Yerevan Int. Film Festival

Winner International Emmy Award for Arts Programming 2010

GOPO – Best Documentary 2010, Romanian National Film Award

Best Balkan Documentary, Dokufest 2010, Prizren, Kosovo 

International Premiere: Visions du Reel 2010, Nyon, Switzerland (competition)

North American Premiere: HotDocs, 2010, Toronto, Canada 

USA Premiere: Telluride Film Festival 2010, Telluride, USA

Crossing Europe 2010, Linz, Austria (competition)

Planet Doc Review 2010, Warsaw, Poland 

London International Doc. Film Festival 2010, London, UK (competition)

Transilvania Int. Film Festival 2010, Cluj, Romania (competition)

Documentarist Istanbul 2010, Istanbul, Turkey (competition)

Message to Men 2010, St. Petersburg, Russia (competition)

Jerusalem Int. Film Festival 2010, Jerusalem, Israel

Sarajevo Film Festival 2010, Sarajevo, Bosnia (competition)

Dokufest 2010, Prizren, Kosovo (competition – “Best Balkan Documentary”)

Taiwan International Documentary Festival 2010, Taipei, Taiwan

Iasi International Film Festival 2010, Iasi, Romania (competition- Special Mention)

DokumentArt Film Festival 2010, Neubrandenburg, Germany (competition) (won main prize)

Zagreb international Film Festival 2010, Zagreb (competition) 

Cinemed- Festival du Film Mediteraneen 2010, Montpellier, France (competition)

International Film Festival «2-in-1» 2010, Moscow, Russia

East Silver Market 2010, Nominee Silver Eye Award, Jihlava, Czech Republic

Miradasdoc Film Festival  2010, Canarias, Spain (competition)

Bratislava International Film Festival 2010, Bratislava, Slovakia (competition)

"Free Zone" Belgrade Human Rights Film Festival 2010 Belgrade, Serbia

Minsk International Film Festival «Listapad» 2010, Minsk, Russia

Cork Film Festival 2010, Cork, Ireland

Escale Documentaire 2010, La Rochelle, France, (competition)

27. Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- & Videofest 2010, Kassel, Germany

Epos festival of Art and Cultur 2010, Tel Aviv, Israel

IDFA 2010, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

DocPoint Helsinki 2011, Helsinki, Finland