Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu
"The film’s ending has the effect of a blessing, as though the universe had just been opened up a little more," wrote Mark Cummins in 2006 interview with Cristi Puiu on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (NYFF '05). Since then, the opening created by Puiu's award-winning film has grown larger and larger and has thrown wide the creative floodgates of a national cinema in a way rarely seen in modern times. This influx of brilliant, ferociously-crafted films is what is known as the Romanian New Wave.
Just two years after Puiu's film won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days won the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. The win cemented the arrival of the Romanian New Wave, a movement united by a specific stylistic sensibility and a piercing, sometimes brutal but never judgmental vision of life as it is lived in Romania, a sight rarely before seen from Mungiu and Puiu's predecessors. For Sight and Sound, Nick Roddick noted their "meticulous attention to detail delivered through very long takes and an often static camera that simply records what's in front of it. That attention to detail extends to performance and dialogue too, both of which are so strikingly naturalistic."
Tudor Giurgiu's Of Snails and Men
At the end of this month, the Film Society and the Romanian Film Initiative will partner to present Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema. The festival, now in its seventh year, offers the latest works from Romanian filmmakers as well as retrospective screenings. It opens on November 29 with Of Snails and Men from Tudor Giurgiu, whose Superman, Spiderman or Batman played in last year's edition of the festival and went on to be a nominee for Best Short Film at the European Film Awards. Though his directing career is in its early stages, Giurgiu is a long-time producer of Romanian films including fellow festival entry Somewhere in Palilula, the feature debut from stage director Silviu Purcărete whose film is described by our programmers as a "flamboyant cross between Fellini and Peter Greenaway."
As much as we associate Romanian cinema with its New Wave, there are films and filmmakers that have had lasting influence. One such example is Mircea Veroiu and Dan Pita's 1972 cult classic Stone Wedding, which will be celebrated with a 40th anniversary screening in Making Waves. In addition, a much-deserved mini-retrospective of Alexandru Tatos will be offered within the festival, with screenings of Sequences, Red Apples, and Anastasia Gently Passes.
Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills
On December 5, the series will close with Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills, a bellowing piece of work set in an Romanian Orthodox monastery where two childhood friends must reconcile their feelings for each other and their divergent lifestyles. Last month, the film played as part of the 50th New York Film Festival and earlier this year it won awards at Cannes for Best Script and Best Actress for its two lead actresses, Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan, both of whom will be in person at Film Society for a post-screening discussion.
Check out the full Making Waves lineup over on the festival page. Planning to see several screenings? Don't forget to take advantage of our Three Film Package! And if you want to do even more to support Romanian film in NYC, consider donating to the Romanian Film Initiative's Kickstarter.