Source: Filmmaker Magazine
Publish Date: 20 March 2012
Author: Howard Feinstein in Festival Coverage, News

[…] Crulic: The Path to Beyond / Anca Damian / Romania Technically a documentary, this brilliant medley of animation and cutouts, with slivers of live action tossed in, is creative interpretation at its most sublime. Crulic has a distinctly Eastern European dry humor, manifest in the drawings and in the rapid, highly detailed voiceovers (mostly in Romanian, with a few observational points made in English).

Claudio Crulic was a Romanian who died at the age of 33 in a Polish prison after a prolonged hunger strike. The victim of a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare, he was wrongly accused of theft and, once he ran out of legal options to prove his innocence, decided to call it quits. He left behind a diary, presumably Damian’s source for biographical facts.

The film begins in reverse, with Crulic’s body being transported back to his home country by his mother and sister. Then Damian begins what resembles a highly unusual two-dimensional biopic, relaying his life story, including the mundanities of the life of a petit-bourgeois man in post-Socialist Mitteleuropa who struggles to survive. For example, he imports trinkets to Romania that were much in demand because they were not Romanian-made, but goes bust when the economy falters. He is an unlucky loner: he loses his baby boy and has problems communicating with others.

What really does him in though is the injustice of the judicial system, especially in Poland. The prison officials torture him psychologically through disorientation, as if they could make his constant protests and letter writing vanish. Crulic documents his heartbreaking physical and mental deterioration. Telling a tragic true story with almost lighthearted animation techniques is a brilliant choice that pays off. […]