Ana Ularu, 26, is a "protest actor," one who believes in the subversiveness of her craft. Even though acting might not save the world – "I know I'd be of more use doing surgery," she says – it can be a way to raise consciousness. The best art, Ms. Ularu says, has a social purpose.
In 2012, Ularu, who is among the best Romanian actors of her generation, will take part in the "Shooting Stars" program, which selects the 10 most talented European actors and offers them a chance to meet directors and producers.
The daughter of scenographers, Ularu has acted in plays and movies since she was a child, and in 2010 won the critics' best actress award at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland for her portrayal of Matilda in "Outbound," a drama about a woman released from prison who has one day to settle her past and flee the country. In the film, with a boyish haircut and an icy stare, Ularu embodies the rebellion she believes in.
She was excited about 2011's Arab Spring and other protest movements because she says they prove that individuals can assemble for change. While she has not yet taken to the Bucharest streets, she did star in an upcoming Italian movie, "Don't Clean Up this Blood," about police violence during the Group of Eight protests in Genoa, Italy, in 2001. It was a small part, but she says it felt like the film restored the past. "It was a phenomenal act of atonement," she says.
This is what movies at their best can do, and Ularu hopes more such acts of restitution will follow.
– Cristian Lupsa, Bucharest, Romania
Next: Karsten Januschke: German maestro