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October 5 - 7

The New Romanian Cinema

The notion that Romania could emerge as one of the most vibrant and exciting filmmaking centers in Europe, if not the world, would have seemed far-fetched a decade ago. And yet, within the past five years a generation of remarkably talented young Romanian directors have produced an impressive body of films that have consistently landed at the top of international critics’ polls and in the coveted top tier of film festivals from Cannes to New York. A clear pattern was defined by the almost unanimous praise and wealth of prizes garnered by The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), a brilliant and scabrously funny satire of bureaucratic inefficiency by Christi Puiu, one of the more influential artists of the New Romanian Cinema. The critical and commercial success of 12:08 East of Bucharest in 2006, followed by the triumph of three Romanian features at Cannes this year—Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days (Palme d’Or, 2007), California Dreamin’ (Un Certain Regard, 2007) and The Way I Spent The End of the World (Best Actress, Un Certain Regard, 2006) have made it clear that Romanian cinema has arrived.

This series provides a crash course in the New Romanian Cinema, with a special focus on four of its most important and innovative directors: Chrisi Puiu, Cristian Nemescu, Catalin Mitulescu and Corneliu Porumboiu.  Together these gifted artists have given Romanian cinema a refreshingly new cinematic vernacular forged by rich stylistic and thematic predilections, most notably their frequent use of meditative long shots and the trenchant humor which infuses their exploration of post-Ceausescu Romania. Willing to dismantle even the most venerable of Romanian cultural institutions, this new generation of young artists has produced one of the most innovative, audacious and essential national cinemas.

This program is co-presented with The Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe. Special thanks to Oana Radu and the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York for their invaulable assistance organizing this series.


Friday October 5 at 7 pm

The Paper Will Be Blue

Directed by Radu Muntean
With Paul Ipate, Adi Carauleanu, Dragos Bucur
Romania 2006, 35mm, color, 95 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

With a crisp, witty script co-written by The Death of Mr. Lazarescu screenwriter Razvan Radulescu, The Paper Will Be Blue is based on the real story of a frustrated soldier who deserts and is tracked down by his unit on the night of Communist despot Nicolae Ceausescu’s overthrow in December, 1989. Shot in cinema-verité style, Muntean’s second feature makes vivid the confusion and radical uncertainty of the regime change while still finding moments of wry, unexpected humor in the eye of the storm that would define modern Romanian history.

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Friday October 5 at 9 pm

Traffic

Directed by Catalin Mitulescu
With Maria Dinulescu, Andi Vasluianu
Romania 2004, 35mm, color, 15 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

An enigmatic episode in a seemingly average day of a disaffected Romanian business. Caught in Bucharest traffic and fragmentary conversations with his four year old daughter, his mind and eyes begin to wander. Mitueslcu’s haunting short was winner of the 2004 Palme d’Or for Short Films at Cannes. Print courtesy of Hi Film Productions.

The Way I Spent the End of the World

Directed by Catalin Mitulescu
With Doroteea Petre, Ionut Becheru, Jean Constantin
Romania/France 2006, video, color, 106 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

Mitulescu’s deeply felt debut film chronicles Romania’s transition from Communist dictatorship to democracy from the perspective of a headstrong young woman whose devotion to her family and country are tested by her taste of first love and expulsion from school. Doroteea Petre’s beautiful performance earned her a prize at Cannes and brings a rare energy to this compassionate story of late blossoming youth. Print courtesy of Pyramide Films.

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Saturday October 6 at 7 pm

C Block Story

Directed by Cristian Nemescu
With Lucian Ciurariu, Maria Dinulescu, Alex Marginean
Romania 2004, 35mm, color, 14 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

The commingling of life and love in a Romanian housing block is the
subject of Nemesu’s wonderful short film. With its sophisticated sound design, artful use of space and commanding performances, C Block Story marvelously displays Nemescu’s prodigious talent. Print courtesy of Hi Film Productions.

Marilena from P7

Directed by Cristian Nemescu
WWith Aura Calarasu Madalina Ghitescu, Gabriel Huian
Romania 2006, 35mm, color, 40 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

Nemescu’s accomplished featurette brings an element of magical realism to a funny yet heartfelt encounter between a precociously curious juvenile delinquent and an electrically charged prostitute. Print courtesy of Hi Film Productions.


Saturday October 6 at 8 pm

California Dreamin’ (Endless)

Directed by Cristian Nemescu
With Armand Assante, Razvan Vasilescu, Jamie Elman
Romania 2007, 35mm, b/w and color, 155 min.
English, Romanian, Spanish and Italian with English subtitles

A scintillating satire of masculinity and cultural difference, California Dreamin’ imagines an encounter between a Romanian village and a troop of Kosovo-bound American marines stranded by a corrupt railroad official. Nemescu proves himself a 21st Breugel with his sprawling tapestry of modern peasant life and his rich caricatures of bureaucratic inefficiency and unfettered human desire. Revealing Nemescu as one of the New Romanian Cinema rising stars, California Dreamin’ also tragically marked the end of his brief career. Killed in a car accident during post-production, Nemescu shot the entirely film but died before he could finish editing.

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Sunday October 7 at 3 pm

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Directed by Cristi Puiu
With Ion Fiscuteanu, Luminta Gheorghiu, Gabriel Spahiu
Romania 2005, 35mm, color, 154 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

This sardonic, darkly humorous, compulsively vibrant feature seems so realistic and convincing, unfolding as though in real time, that it's hard to believe it was acted. As the film follows an ailing retired engineer, too fond of booze, who gets carted from one overtaxed Bucharest hospital to another in search of proper medical care, a whole stressed society is laid bare: each doctor, nurse, paramedic, and patient leaps into view with sharp individuality and articulate self-defensiveness. Print courtesy of Tartan Films.

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Sunday October 7 at 7 pm

Cigarettes and Coffee

Directed by Cristi Puiu
With Mimi Branescu, Mihai Bratila, Victor Rebengiuc
Romania 2004, 35mm, color, 13 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

This razor sharp film written and directed by Puiu cuts to the bone with its devastating yet poignant summary of corrupt and nepotistic bureaucracy. Winner of the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival.

Stuff and Dough

Directed by Cristi Puiu
With Alexandru Papadopol, Bucur, Ioana Flora
Romania 2001, 35mm, color, 93 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

Puiu’s first film is a wonderfully streamlined and spirited road movie that follows two slackers’ misguided attempt to deliver a bag of “goods” to a Bucharest address. What follows is an alternately harrowing and hilarious adventure in bad luck and frayed nerves that showcases the dead-pan humor and minimalist style which Puiu would brilliantly refine in Lazarescu.

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Sunday October 7 at 9 pm

Liviu’s Dream

Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
With Dragos Bucur, Constantin Dita, Ion Grosu
Romania 2004, 35mm, color, 39 min.
omanian with English subtitles

A restless youth troubled by a recurring dream and a guilty conscious decides to take matters in his own hands. 12:08 East of Bucharest director Porumbiu brings his signature humor and visual flair to this sympathetic portrait of a young man’s unusual search for inner peace. 

A Trip to the City

Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
With Constantin Dita, Ion Sapardu
Romania 2004, 35mm, color, 19 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

Porumbiu’s  humorous vignette follows a dutiful school teacher and a street smart village official on their way to the city to pick up their village’s first computer.

The Tube with a Hat

Directed by Radu Jude
With Gabriel Spahiu
Romania 2006, 35mm, color, 23 min.
Romanian with English subtitles

A wonderful coda to the series is provided by this poignant short which uses the characteristic dead-pan voice of contemporary Romanian cinema to tell the tale of a father and son’s comic misadventures as they take their aging television to town to be repaired.

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