NICHOLAS DIMANCESCU - 1985-2011
On May 22, documentary director Nicholas Dimancescu, 26 yrs old, fell to his death while filming in the Carpathians Mountains of Romania. Though young and new to the world of filmmaking, he quickly gained recognition for his prior directorship and narration of two documentaries on Romania in WW-I (HILL 789) and WW-II (KNIGHTS OF THE SKY). Completed in partnership with the National Geographic Magazine, he developed a sensitive, personal view of tumultuous and tragic times in Romanian history.
Both premiered on TVR1, Romania's national television channel. His diplomat grandfather's memoirs of WW-1, the subject of his first film production created with colleagues in Boston and Bucharest, was factual and poignant in its direct, honest narration. A Romanian war-hero of that era, his grandfather was recipient of the rarely awarded British Military Cross for helping British Intelligence destroy Romanian oil wells and storage in the face of German advances.
Early experiences as an intern helping to save and to protect cave-bear fossils in Romania, a project sponsored by the National Geographic Magazine (Romania Edition) under the mentorship of Cristian Lascu, the magazine's editor and a noted cave explorer, introduced him to the world of professional documentary production. He set out on his own to explore the 'first signs of human consciousness' in the world of cave painting; he worked with Boston artists to experiment in varied film, music, and digital media; and all the while strengthened an appreciation and love for Romanian culture. Friendships there would stimulate his professional documentary skills further.
His work tapped the creative skills of computer animator/ designer Kyle Brandse, famed war-illustrators such as George Pratt, and musicians from cellist Marin Cazacu to DJs Tanner Ross and Michael Tran, to develop a story and visual narrative that could bring history alive and relevant to his generation. He brought together men several generations removed such as WW-II fighter-pilot "aces" Col. Barrie Davis, 87, and General Ion Dobran, 92, who had attacked one another over Romanian skies in 1944. Invited by his film company, the two met for the first time in Bucharest in 2010 sixty-six years after their violent confrontation.
Born in Boston and raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts, he developed a lively, open-minded life that relished testing the limits. Educated at Lincoln-Sudbury High School where he starred in track competition, Fisher College in Boston, Emerson, Harvard Extension School, and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, he focused on those individuals and courses tailored to a growing interest in the world of history, culture, photography and film.
Ancestry from his maternal side, dating back to the first Mayflower settlers in the 1600s in Massachusetts, led to his membership in the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company (AHAC - America's oldest military group) and to membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.
He was honored by Charlotte Black Elk (Lakota Tribe) with a Native-American breastplate made by the grandson of Crazy-Horse as well as buffalo skins.
In 2011, he launched into an ambitious one-hour documentary production with the working title "Decoding Trajan's Column." His goal was to bring alive the landscapes and culture of the Dacian lands conquered by Roman Emperor Trajan in 101-106AD. That task took him into the cave-rich 'Dacian' Carpathian Mountains noted for their unique mountain and hill-top fortresses that proved an enduring nemesis of the Roman Empire.
During his filming assignment on May 22rd, 2011, he scrambled up a jagged hilltop to capture a dramatic thunder-storm billowing above the Cioclovina Cave. His last photos were of new Spring flowers and skyline vistas. A 3:45 pm he tripped on a fragile escarpment and fell to his death in a place he loved.
He thrived in the creative vitality of his Allston (Boston) neighborhood. He worked hard. He lived his life to the fullest. He brought joy and friendship to those around him. He learned to cook wonderful meals. He was generous. And in ways that escape so many of us he understood life's deeper subtleties.
In 2010 he was granted dual-citizenship rights by Romania. His death came to national attention in Romania where he touched an emotional nerve in his newly acquired love for the land and its people. Memorial services were held in Bucharest attended by the U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Mark Gitenstein, dignitaries and numerous friends of all walks of life. A U.S. military guard honored his AHAC membership.
He was buried in Lincoln, Massachusetts, at one of the most peaceful and oldest cemeteries of New England.
He is survived by his parents and sister, Dan & Katherine Dimancescu, and Katie Dimancescu all of Concord. A special documentary film institute will be established in his name with the goal of supporting creative young talent.
On May 26th, a service was held at the Romanian Orthodox Church of Saint Visarion in Bucharest, Romania with an honor guard from the
U.S. Military Attache's Offices.
On June 4th, 11:00 am, a burial service was held at the Unitarian Church in Concord, Massachusetts. "Sons of the American Revolution", of which he was a descendant,
served as honor guards.
On June 23, a Lakota Native American Sun Dance ceremony was performed at which he was recognized as a "Lightning Warrior" and his spirit
was revered in its
passing to the next world.
Quotation from Herodotus 'Histories"
Personal messages can be read at this site.
His colleagues made a short video of his last days for showing on National TV in Romania
Also from Neil Pugh, a British documentary maker: "I have uploaded footage that I have that caught fleeting moments of Nicholas as he filmed and chatted with Barrie and others at the DC reunion of the 325th Fighter Group."
His last informal short film on the Dartmouth Cycling Team shown at Moosilauke Mountain, N.H., on June 4, 2011