The Chalice. Of Sons and Daughters (Work-in-progress, 80’).

Event: Film screening

Location: NEC conference hall

09 October 2019, 17:00 – 19:00

Director: Cătălina TESĂR Camera: Cătălin MUȘAT, Ileana SZASZ, Cătălina TESĂR Editors: Dana BUNESCU, Ciprian CIMPOI
ollowed by a Q&A session with Cătălina TESĂR, NEC Odobleja Fellow, Researcher, National Museum of the Romanian Peasant

Discussant: Jonathan LARCHER, UEFISCDI Award Fellow, Centre de Recherches en Arts et Langage (EHESS), Lecturer, Nanterre University, Paris


In villages in Transylvania live a Roma population who preserved the tradition of marriages by arrangement. At the centre of marriages stand chalices (golden cups) which come from the ancestors and are passed on from father to son. Chalices are invisible in everyday life: they are kept hidden in the houses of Romanian neighbors. On the occasion of a marriage, the groom’s chalice is given in trust to the bride’s family until the new couple has a son – the ultimate guarantee of the endurance of a marriage. Daughters are not desired, because they bring the prospects for their parents to pay big cash dowries to marry them off. It is not uncommon that young couples resort to pregnancy interruption in case of female fetus. In this context, the documentary follows a couple in their mid-20s, parents to a 5 year daughter, who are striving to conceive a son, in order to comply with the custom concerning the male inheritance of ancient chalices. While the couple lives the stress and hassle of fertility checks and ultrasound exams, their respective families are disputing their rights in the chalice pledged when they arranged the couple’s match. Will the couple succeed in bringing forth a son or will they resort to sex selective abortion?

The film was supported by Wenner-Gren Foundation U.S. ( a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship in Ethnographic Film granted to Cătălina Tesăr in October 2016).

Event of The Group for Anthropological Research and Debates (GARD), New Europe College