The Photography Of Cristian Movila: Committed To A Cause
Cristian Movila, who was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1983, has four sisters whom he says taught him all about “emotions,” a trait he’s been able to successfully incorporate into his work. He also says he was drawn to the arts early in life. In elementary school, he learned to play the piano and the trumpet. Later, in grade school, he became interested in journalism while hosting a children’s radio program. Although he studied electronic engineering at the University of Polytechnic, Bucharest, over time he found himself increasingly concerned with social issues, and so he decided to become a photographer so he could capture the complexities of life “in a snapshot.”
In the summer of 2003, he began working for Romania’s news agency, Mediafax. After two years with the agency, he struck out on his own as a freelancer documenting a wide variety of armed conflicts, famine, and socio-political issues in the Middle East, Russia, Eastern Europe, Israel, Palestine, the former Soviet Union, and the United States. Movila’s images have appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Cotidianul, Jurnalul National, Stern, and Paris Match.
“Every project, every story is interesting,” states Movila, who says he chose to be a documentary photographer because he likes interacting with people. “I also want to find stories that can answer all my questions. People, unfortunately, know me for sad stories,” Movila concludes, “but I also shoot other things, even fashion, which I love, but in a documentary way.” As for the future, Movila says he’s committed to exploring the world through his lens, which he expects to take at least this lifetime.
In the summer of 2005, he was visiting a friend at the Marie Curie Hospital in Bucharest and accidentally wound up on the wrong floor. “I went to the fifth floor, where the oncology section is located,” explains Movila, who began to cry after seeing some of the children under treatment there. Conditions in the hospital are poor; there are not enough beds or nurses, and food, medicine, and medical supplies are short. Under these current conditions, the patients’ chances of survival are reduced by half. Typically, about 20 children are being treated at any given time in an old section of the hospital.
While Movila walked through the wing, he notes, no one seemed to notice him and no one questioned him. “It was like I was invisible,” states Movila, who was devastated by the scene. After about 30 minutes, he left. “The days that followed were very difficult for me and I thanked God I was healthy. I decided I wanted to use photography to help the children at the hospital so they could be cured and do the things they dreamed of doing in life.”
First, Movila had to get permission to take photos at the hospital. He says he did this by establishing a relationship with the staff, which he found to be fairly easy but time consuming. He worked on the project for about two years, and in 2008 organized a campaign and several exhibitions of his photos to raise money for early cancer treatment. So far, about 3.2 million euros have been raised, notes Movila, who plans to continue photographing the children in the future.
“I never finish a story,” he admits. “I just stop working on it for a while, and when I have the chance and time I start working on it again. I always believe when I look at my stories that I can do much more, which is why I go back.” Movila is currently working on a book featuring the “Unfinished Dreams” images.
About the photos shown on these pages, Movila says, “The wing is a long, bare hallway flooded by a white neon light. The rooms on the left and right side of the ward were each occupied by three or four children. Most of them didn’t have hair on their heads because of the radiation/chemo treatments. Some of the children were crying and some were playing, while others lay in bed because they were unable to move. About half of the kids,” Movila recalls, “were there with their parents, either mother or father or grandmother, who slept next to them on a salon chair. The others were alone.”
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