Remembering Liviu Ciulei

In October of this year the world lost a true artist. Liviu Ciulei was an icon of Romanian theater whose renown extended far beyond the borders of his native country. He entered the theater as an actor, portraying Puck in a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He continued to establish himself as an actor while taking steps towards the director’s chair. He was lauded for his 1961 production of another Shakespearian classic, As You Like It.

Ciulei also dabbled in film directing. While he only directed three movies, all are considered superb. His second film, The Danube Waves (1959), earned him the Crystal Globe for Best Director at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. He followed that with Forest of the Hanged (1964), which garnered international attention and a Best Director Award from the Cannes Film Festival.

Tension in his native Romania led to his departure, and he found a new home in the United States. He acted as artistic director of Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theater for five years, taught at NYU and Columbia, and staged plays around the US and Europe. He returned to Romania after the 1989 revolution and continued to put on shows until his final years.

In honor of the late artist, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York will be screening all three of Ciulei’s films, Eruption (1957), The Danube Waves, and Forest of the Hanged, as part of the 6th Romanian Film Festival in New York, which runs from November 30 – December 6. These rarely-seen films will be shown in new 35mm prints in the presence of the star of The Danube Waves, Irina Petrescu.

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