"Civilians" observes the complex relation between urban communities in New York and the spaces they share, glancing at the underrepresented intricacy of the anthropological fabric of the city.

  • Toma Peiu
  • Toma Peiu
  • Luiza Parvu
  • Shan Jin
  • Luiza Parvu
  • Toma Peiu
  • Luiza Parvu
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    33 minutes 57 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 15, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    1,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    Chinese, English, Other, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • CinemAmbiente International Environmental Film Festival
    June 1, 2017
    World Premiere
  • Astra Film Festival
    October 18, 2017
  • MDOCS Forum – Sensing Surveillance Exhibition
    Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY
    United States
    June 7, 2018
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Toma Peiu

Toma Peiu (b. 1987, Bucharest) is a filmmaker, writer and media scholar, currently based in New York. His work reflects an interest in identifying modes of expression and interdisciplinary narratives bridging fiction, non-fiction, cultural theory, art and real life experience. "Civilians" was produced as a thesis film for the MA in Media Studies program at The New School University in New York. The short films he wrote, directed by his partner Luiza Pârvu, have been recognized at over 80 film festivals and events worldwide, from Cluj to New York, Karlovy Vary, Moscow and Abu Dhabi.
In 2014, Luiza and Toma have founded their own production company, Root Films.

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Director Statement

The cosmopolitan civil society of the 21st century global city spend their everyday around neighborhood street corners, stores and public transit stops, outside the reach of mainstream media and show business. Rituals, routines and unexpected events woven into the fabric of the civilian experience reveal themselves to the attentive eye. Civilians is an exploration of life in the metropolis, framing everyday scenes in the streets of “the other New York”: a collection of communities whose specificity is presently challenged by advancing gentrification and changes in the city’s economic paradigm.

Two cooks prepare a tray of dim sum by a sidewalk window; mothers bid a long goodbye to their children, outside a parked school bus; a group of firefighters shop at a local supermarket; two elderly brothers sing in front of an audience for the first time; a father and son await the train home, the evening before Thanksgiving. In Civilians, a bricoleur looks at the public landscape and its inhabitants in melancholic “open window” frames unearthing the poetry hidden in the mundane of a contemporary American city, captured over one Thanksgiving week.