From 1983 to 2016, Romanian-born essayist, novelist and poet Andrei Codrescu was regularly featured on NPR as a guest commentator. Now there’s a new documentary on his life and work by a filmmaker who knows him well.

Poet, essayist and University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) professor Julian Semilian will screen Fish Have No Psychiatrists: A Day with Andrei Codrescu at the RiverRun International Film Festival this weekend. 

Semilian first met Codrescu in 1965. Both men were in their late teens, immigrating to the United States with their families. The two became fast friends, with Codescu introducing Semilian to art, music, poetry and surrealism.

He says even at a young age, there was something about Codescu that was "a few thousand years old." One influence: their shared communist past in Romania that left lasting marks on both men.

"At that time the secret police — the Securitate — one in three people were a part of it, reporting on each other," says Semilian. "And, you know, I didn’t realize how repressive it was until we went to Italy, for instance, before coming to the United States, and both of us felt like we really stretch our wings here!"

The premiere screening of Fish Have No Psychiatrists: A Day with Andrei Codrescu takes place Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in UNCSA’s Main Theatre in Winston-Salem.

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