A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
BAMcinématek & Romanian Film Initiative Announce the Lineup for Making Waves
The Romanian Film Initiative, BAMcinématek and the Jacob Burns Film Center announce the lineup for the 12th edition of Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema,November 30-December 7
Highlights include Bogdan Mirică’s FIPRESCI prize-winning Dogs, Călin Peter Netzer’s Silver Bear Winner Ana, Mon Amour, Adrian Sitaru’sThe Fixer, Romania’s entry to the Academy Awards® foreign language competition, and a spotlight on Anca Damian, one of the most compelling Romanian directors working today
New York, NY — November 22, 2017 — The Romanian Film Initiative, BAMcinématek, and the Jacob Burns Film Center are proud to present the 12thedition of Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema, to run November 30-December 7. The survey of new Romanian cinema has been hailed by the Wall Street Journal as having “helped define and establish the southeastern European country as a stronghold of socially incisive, independently minded personal cinema.” New York’s longstanding Romanian film festival comes to BAMcinématek for the first time, with an exclusive program that features the award-winning works of a new generation of talents, including Bogdan Mirică’s Balkan Coen-esque thriller Dogs; a zany social comedy from second-time filmmaker Paul Negoescu, Two Lottery Tickets; and a quiet backwater drama from actor-turned-director Emanuel Pârvu, Meda or the Not So Bright Side of Things. The festival also turns a spotlight on Anca Damian, one of the most compelling Romanian directors working today, who has forged a singular path with her visually arresting documentary, narrative and animation hybrids or her intellectually challenging fiction films. The three-film showcase consists of In Perfect Health, Crulic: The Path to Beyond, and The Magic Mountain. “The national cinema of Romania continues to make waves internationally. We are proud to join forces with the Romanian Film Initiative to bring these critically acclaimed films to New York city audiences,” said Gina M. Duncan, Associate Vice President, Cinema, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). “In complementary programming, the Jacob Burns Film Center showcases for the 5th year the best new releases of the year, seeing the return of audience darling Nae Caranfil, who gets to open this year’s festival with his new musical extravaganza, 6.9 on the Richter Scale,” writesMihai Chirilov, the festival’s Artistic Director. “International film festival highlights such as Adrian Sitaru’s The Fixer, Călin Peter Netzer's Ana, Mon Amour and Iulia Rugină’s Breaking Newsjoin the party, adding to the mix the tales of convoluted relationships and morally charged dramas that New Romanian Cinema has become known for. And so does a contingent of promising first-time filmmakers: Anca Miruna Lăzărescu, with her highly enjoyable Iron Curtain dramatic comedy The Trip We Took With Dad, the duo Cosmin Bumbuț and Elena Stancu, with their exquisite piece of anthropological cinema The Last Kalderash, and Șerban Georgescu and his mordant social satire Cabbage, Potatoes and Other Demons. This year’s program is a hell of a ride, with The Gambler by Ignas Jonynas on board — courtesy of this edition’s guest country, Lithuania. With its dash of black humor, it could easily pass as Romanian. Enjoy!” Guests of this year’s festival include directors Anca Damian (this year’s director in focus), Adrian Sitaru (The Fixer), Iulia Rugină (Breaking News), Paul Negoescu (Two Lottery Tickets), Emanuel Pârvu (Meda or The Not So Bright Side of Things), director and DP Adrian Silișteanu (Written/Unwritten, The Fixer), actor Anghel Damian (In Perfect Health), and producer Miruna Berescu (Meda or The Not So Bright Side of Things). As well as introducing these filmmakers’ voices to U.S audiences, Making Waves aims to help them connect to, and network within, the American film industry. With this in mind, an industry event will also accompany the festival screenings and gala events. Corina Șuteu, Festival President, says, “BAMcinématek is the ideal place to put new talent on stage, but also to start a meaningful conversation about the similarities and differences between the Romanian and American film industries. Having a strong platform and a reputation established in New York, Making Waves reinvents itself in 2017 at BAM.” Making Waves was founded by the Romanian Film Initiative and is co-presented in partnership with BAMcinematék and the Jacob Burns Film Center. Co-founded in 2012 by Corina Șuteu, Mihai Chirilov and Oana Radu, the independent Romanian Film Initiative aims to preserve and enhance the festival’s critical and creative spirit. Leading support for the 12th edition of Making Waves is provided by The Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Filmmakers Union of Romania, and Blue Heron Foundation. Film Industry Talks is supported by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund of Romania. Schedule[U2]
Thursday, November 30, 7:00 pm, JBFC 6.9 on the Richter Scale (116m) NR DCP. Friday, December 1, 7:30 pm, JBFC That Trip We Took With Dad (111m) NR, DCP Saturday, December 2, 7:30 pm, JBFC Ana, Mon Amour (130m) NR, DCP Sunday, December 3, 5:30 pm, JBFC The Fixer (97m) NR, DCP. In person: director Adrian Sitaru & DP Adrian Silișteanu Monday, December 4, 7:00 pm, BAM Dogs (104m) NR, DCP Monday, December 4, 9:20 pm, BAM Two Lottery Tickets (104m) NR, DCP. In person: director Paul Negoescu Monday, December 4, 7:15 pm, JBFC The Gambler (109m) NR, DCP Tuesday, December 5, 7:00 pm, BAM In Perfect Health (90m) NR, DCP In person: director Anca Damian & actor Anghel Damian Tuesday, December 5, 7:15 pm, JBFC Cabbage, Potatoes, and Other Demons (64m) NR, DCP Wednesday, December 6, 7:00pm, BAM Crulic (73m) NR, DCP. In person: director Anca Damian Wednesday, December 6, 9:30pm, BAM The Magic Mountain (85m) NR, DCP. In person: director Anca Damian Wednesday, December 6, 7:15 pm, JBFC The Last Kalderash (59m) NR, DCP preceded by Written/Unwritten (20m). In person: director Adrian Silișteanu Thursday, December 7, 7:00 pm, BAM Meda or The Not So Bright Side of Things (82m) NR, DCP. In person: director Emanuel Pârvu & producer Miruna Berescu Thursday, December 7, 7:15 pm, JBFC Breaking News (81m) NR, DCP. In person: director Iulia Rugină New Releases (Jacob Burns Film Center) OPENING NIGHT 6.9 on the Richter Scale Thu, Nov. 30, 7:00 pm 2016. 116m. Nae Caranfil. Romania/Bulgaria/Hungary. Romanian with subtitles. NR. U.S. Premiere A young actor faces the challenge of his life as he’s torn between his complex role in a musical, the needs of his depressed and pathologically jealous wife and his obsession with a devastating earthquake that he’s convinced is right around the corner (a genuine Romanian obsession). Moreover, he becomes the willing victim of his amoral, manipulative father, who enters his life for the very first time. Don’t expect a drama, though: Somehow, JBFC favorite Nae Caranfil (his sparkling Closer to the Moon opened Making Waves a few years back) turns these ingredients into a Billy Wilder-esque dark comedy with extremely colorful musical numbers. A musical lover himself, Nae not only directed this burlesque extravaganza, but also wrote the script and the score. That Trip We Took With Dad Fri, Dec. 1, 7:30 pm 2016. 111m. Anca Miruna Lăzărescu. Germany/Romania/Hungary/Sweden. German and Romanian with subtitles. NR. In 1968, two German-Romanian brothers load their ailing father into their car in Romania and head for the German Democratic Republic, hoping that an operation in Dresden will restore his health. As they motor through the GDR, the Prague uprising throws everything into confusion, and they end up in a tourist detention center. They’re finally permitted to go to West Germany, where they crash in a Munich commune full of housemates holding forth on the glories of socialism. Based on the director’s father’s truestory, this extremely enjoyable rock’n’roll road trip traversing the contradictions between East and West is surprisingly light in tone, despite the serious matters addressed along the way. Ana, Mon Amour Sat, Dec. 2, 7:30 pm 2017. 130m. Călin Peter Netzer. Romania/Germany/France. Romanian with subtitles. NR. U.S. Premiere Toma meets Ana while both at university studying literature, and they fall in love. Ana suffers from panic attacks, and Toma follows her to every dark corner she ends up in. He fights his parents when they reject her, marries her and becomes a father. He eventually becomes her babysitter, her driver, her everything. While he appears to be in control of their relationship, Toma, in fact, just orbits around a woman he cannot understand, pushing himself to the limit as he tries to save her. After his award-winning The Child’s Pose, director Călin Peter Netzer once again masterfully charts the trials and tribulations of a toxic dependency, employing a fractured chronology of events and two young and fearless actors. The Fixer Sun, Dec. 3, 5:30 pm 2016. 97m. Adrian Sitaru. Romania/France. Romanian and French with subtitles. NR. New York Premiere Director Adrian Sitaru and DP Adrian Silișteanu in attendance Serving as a translator and general problem solver, or “fixer,” a Romanian reporter working at a French news network seizes a career-making opportunity when a sex scandal breaks and two underage Romanian prostitutes are repatriated from France. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to interview one of them — up to the point where he must ask himself if, as a journalist, he can live with the consequences of his actions, and if, as a father, he's setting a good example for his son. Exploring a rich moral landscape, Adrian Sitaru (whose controversial Illegitimate played last year) seamlessly connects themes of fatherhood and journalistic ethics. TheFixerrepresents Romania as a contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Cabbage, Potatoes and Other Demons Tue, Dec. 5, 7:15 pm 2016. 64 m. Șerban Georgescu. Romania/Germany. Romanian with subtitles. NR. U.S. Premiere After filmmaker Șerban Georgescu buys a ton of cabbage for only 25 dollars, he sets out to explore the absurdist dynamic of Romanian agriculture in a small southern village. There, some 1,000 farmers produce approximately 100,000 tons of cabbage and potatoes per year — an amount that far exceeds demand. Surrounded by pyramids of their produce in the market, the farmers undersell each other until they all end up losing money. Georgescu inserts himself into this satirical adventure with Super Size Me overtones by moving to the village for a year and cultivating cabbage and potatoes in an attempt to understand why the farmers voluntarily participate in this economic dead end. The Last Kalderash Wed, Dec. 6, 7:15 pm 2016. 59m. Cosmin Bumbuț & Elena Stancu. Romania. Romanian with subtitles. Rated NR. U.S. Premiere Preceded by Written/Unwritten 2016. 20m. Adrian Silisteanu. Romania. Romanian and Romani with subtitles. NR. A young Roma coppersmith from a Romanian village loses the means to support his wife and his 6-year old son when local farmers stop buying his handmade pots. While the older Roma coppersmiths still have a few customers, the younger generation are leaving for France to collect scrap metal or to Belgium to pick apples. This is anthropological cinema at its best, a tender look at a community forced into exodus in search of a better life, and a love letter to a craft made obsolete in the modern world. It’s preceded by short film Written/Unwritten by Adrian Silisteanu, a gripping story of a Roma family battling state bureaucracy. Both films won awards at the Transylvania International Film Festival: Best Debut and Best Short. Breaking News Thu, Dec. 7, 7:15 pm 2017. 81m. Iulia Rugină. Romania. Romanian with subtitles. NR. New York Premiere Director Iulia Rugină in attendance A TV reporter survives a tragic accident but must film a memorial portrait for a coworker who wasn’t so fortunate. Delving into his colleague’s private life, he must rely on testimony from the deceased’s daughter, whose relationship with her father was less than perfect. During three days in the run-up to Christmas, the reporter becomes an involuntary witness to the girl’s struggle to come to terms with the loss of her dad, and he discovers that he didn’t really know the man he worked with every day. Breaking News is an emotionally charged drama that asks whether we can truly ever really know another person, while deftly touching on contemporary media’s tendency to sensationalize human affairs. Talents to Watch (BAMcinématek) Dogs Mon, Dec. 4, 7:00 pm 2016. 104m. Bogdan Mirică. Romania/France/Bulgaria/Qatar. Romanian with subtitles. NR. A young man from the city travels to a remote village in rural Romania to sell the land he inherited from his grandfather, and discovers that the old man had been a crime lord. In order to sell, he has to face his grandfather’s deputies, now led by an affable Tartar (Vlad Ivanov, effortlessly superb again as a bad guy, after 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Snowpiercer).Meanwhile, the local policeman is investigating the discovery of a severed foot, but what he’s really after is revenge on his lifetime nemesis, at any cost. If the Coen brothers had been Balkan born, this is how their No Country for Old Men would have looked. First-time director Mirică won the critics’ prize in Cannes and the top award at the Transilvania International Film Festival for this slick and thrilling Molotov cocktail of genres. Two Lottery Tickets Mon, Dec. 4, 9:20 pm 2016. 86m. Paul Negoescu. Romania/Spain. Romanian with English subtitles. NR. Director Paul Negoescu in attendance Three ne’er-do-wells from a provincial town hit the jackpot when they win the six-million Euro lottery only to find out that the winning ticket is nowhere to be found. This is the beginning of a zany adventure as the trio sets off on a hunt in search of the two wannabe gangsters who stole the bag containing the lucky scrap of paper. Paranoid potheads, exotic prostitutes, gullible children, enterprising clairvoyants and even a colorblind policeman cross their paths, generating one hilarious set piece after another. With little resources and great craftsmanship, second-time director Negoescu has created a refreshingly charming indie comedy, not without serious undertones as it explores issues such as corruption, poverty and the nature of chance. The cast, including Dogs’ lead Dragoș Bucur, is top-notch. Meda or the Not So Bright Side of Things Thu, Dec. 7, 7:00 pm 2017. 82m. Emanuel Pârvu. Romania. Romanian with English subtitles. NR. North American Premiere Director Emanuel Pârvu and producer Miruna Berescu in attendance Doru is a lumberjack whose wife has recently died. His loss is compounded by the risk of losing his foster child, Meda, a teenager foster-parented by his wife for eight years. Doru wants to become Meda’s foster parent, but the paperwork is prohibitively expensive for someone for whom cutting wood and raising cows are the only legal means of making a living. The film captures the harsh reality of poverty in a rural community where parents and children are caught in a traumatic cycle of hardship and aggresion. Actor-turned-director Pârvu (Cristian Mungiu’sGraduation) depicts, with gripping authenticity, a rural backwater where stifling bureaucracy meets petty corruption, while lead actor Șerban Pavlu infuses his award-winning performance with a quiet desperation that perfectly fits this austere yet engaging drama. The film received Best Director and Best Actor awards at the 2017 Sarajevo Film Festival. Director in Focus: Anca Damian (BAMcinématek) Anca Damian (b. 1962) is a singular voice in the Romanian film landscape. Not only Romania’s first female director of photography turned director, but a prolific auteur who does not neatly fit into the Romanian New Wave, Damian employs a cinematic style of her own. She made her directorial debut with Crossing Dates (2008), an ambitious tryptic of interwoven stories, but it was the animated documentary Crulic – The Path to Beyond (2011) that brought her wider recognition. Premiering in the Locarno competition and subsequently shown in Telluride, the film garnered an astounding 150 film festival selections and more than 30 awards. The same storytelling technique, further refined, applies to her following documentary hybrid The Magic Mountain (2015), which premiered in the Karlovy Vary competition and is a striking mix of extravagant animation and narrative poetry. Besides animated works, Damian has made three other live action feature films: A Very Unsettled Summer (2013), In Perfect Health (2017), andMoon Hotel Kabul (2017), all intellectually challenging, visually striking, narratively fractured and with just enough experimental elements to place her among the most intriguing European female auteurs . GALA SCREENING In Perfect Health Tue, Dec. 5, 7:00 pm 2017. 90m. Anca Damian. Romania/France. Romanian with English subtitles. NR. North American Premiere Director Anca Damian and actor Anghel Damian in attendance A young lawyer (Anghel Damian) trying to solve the mystery behind the unexpected death of his father, a prominent judge and notorious womanizer (Vlad Ivanov, playing against type), disturbs the life of a quiet town and unearths unwanted revelations. What starts as a thriller, complete with investigations and reenactments at what the lawyer believes to be a crime scene, slowly melts into a compulsive quest of Hamlet-esque proportions. With a chilling visual style, courtesy of Director of Photography Oleg Mutu (Beyond the Hills), this strange beast of a movie is Damian’s most personal and intriguing yet, loosely inspired by the circumstances of her father’s tragic demise. The suspenseful story is emphasized by a solid performance from leading actor Anghel Damian, supported, along with Vlad Ivanov, by Olimpia Melinte and a compelling turn by Cristina Florea. Crulic – The Path to Beyond Wed, Dec. 6, 7:00 pm 2011. 73m. Anca Damian. Romania/Poland. Romanian with English subtitles. NR Director Anca Damian in attendance When Claudiu Crulic, a young Romanian in Poland, was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he became a pawn in a Kafkaesque miscarriage of justice and went on hunger strike to protest his treatment in jail. Damian’s documentary is by turns chilling and heartbreaking — Crulic himself “narrates” the film posthumously, his words voiced by Vlad Ivanov, star of such Romanian New Wave titles as Police, Adjective and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days — but also ironic, with a touch of black humor thrown in. What makes this extraordinary documentary even more compelling is its strong visual style: Damian uses hand-drawn, cutout and collage-based animation techniques to create a strikingly memorable film. The Magic Mountain Wed, Dec. 6, 9:30 pm 2015. 89m. Anca Damian. Romania/France/Poland, 2015. In English. NR Director Anca Damian in attendance This film recreates the adventures of Polish photographer and mountaineer Adam J. Winkler (1937–2002), who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan on the side of the Mujahideen. A political refugee in Paris, Winkler was a brave, yet impulsive and cynical idealist. The narrative of this highly original film, created with a combination of actors and animation, is conceived as a dialogue between the protagonist and his daughter Ania. Visually, the work is built up around Winkler’s photographs and naive drawings, which are graphically modified: sometimes as sketches, at other times as eye-catching watercolor illustrations or animated sequences, matching both the tragic and the humorous tones of the story. Creative Freedom through Cinema. Guest Country: Lithuania (Jacob Burns Film Center) The Gambler Mon, Dec. 4, 7:15 2013. 109 m. Ignas Jonynas. Lithuania-Latvia. Lithuanian with subtitles. NR. Making Waves’s “Creative Freedom Through Cinema” program continues to examine the relationship between arts and politics in Eastern Europe, with a spotlight this year on Lithuania, a country which provides tremendous support to young filmmakers; it’s always interesting to see how they process, artistically, the Soviet legacy of their now-free country. The chosen title for this year’s program, The Gambler, the debut of director Ignas Jonynas, is a case in point. A Lithuanian paramedic praised at work for saving others’ lives cannot quite manage his own. With heavy gambling debts and threats of violence from local mobsters who want their money back, he comes up with a secret contest, getting his coworkers to bet on which patients are most likely to die. As a political allegory, it is as macabre as the gambling operation itself, depicting a post-Soviet landscape torn between its socialist roots and the brutal new realities of capitalism. But there is plenty of black comedy and joie de vivre in this exciting piece of Baltic neo-noir, and it works just as well as a universal comment on the human condition. The Gambler was Lithuania’s entry for the foreign language film Oscar in 2014. Screening Venues: BAM: BAMcinématek, Peter Jay Sharp Building, BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217 JBFC: Jacob Burns Film Center, 364 Manville Rd., Pleasantville, NY 10570 Tickets: BAMcinématek: General admission: $15, Members: $7.50, Seniors: $11. Visitwww.bam.org/cinematek for more information. Jacob Burns Film Center: General admission: $13, Members: $8. For the opening night screening, followed by a reception, tickets are $12 (members), $17 (nonmembers). Visitburnsfilmcenter.org for more information. The Romanian Film Initiative (RFI) was formed in 2012 to safeguard the existence and the spirit of the Romanian film festival in New York, redesigned as Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema, and co-presented with the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Created by Corina Șuteu, Mihai Chirilov and Oana Radu, the core team that initiated and organized the festival since 2006, RFI is a flagship of Film ETC. Association in Bucharest. Along with the continuation and expansion of Making Waves, RFI aims to develop and contribute to other projects interested in promoting Romanian cinema in the U.S., and the professionalization of the cultural sector, both in Romania and internationally. www.filmetc.org BAMcinématek. Since 1998 BAM Rose Cinemas has been Brooklyn’s home for alternative, documentary, art-house and independent films. Combining new releases with BAMcinématek’s year-round repertory program, the four-screen venue hosts new and rarely seen contemporary films, classics, work by local artists and festivals of films from around the world, often with special appearances by directors, actors and other guests. BAMcinématek has hosted major retrospectives of filmmakers like Spike Lee, Chantal Akerman, John Carpenter, Manoel de Oliveira, Luis Buñuel, King Hu, and Vincente Minnelli (winning a National Film Critics’ Circle Award prize for the retrospective), and hosted the first US retrospectives of directors Arnaud Desplechin, Hong Sang-soo, Andrzej Zulawski and Jiang Wen. Since 2009, the program has also produced BAMcinemaFest, New York’s home for American independent film, and has championed the work of filmmakers like Janicza Bravo, Andrew Dosunmu, Lena Dunham and Alex Ross Perry. The 12-day festival of New York premieres, now in its ninth year, ran from June 14-25, 2017. www.bam.org/BAMcinematek The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) is a nonprofit cultural arts organization dedicated to presenting the best of independent, documentary and world cinema, promoting 21st century literacy, and making film a vibrant part of the community. Located on a 47,500 sq. foot, three-building campus in the center of Pleasantville, the JBFC is just 30 miles outside of New York City. Since its opening in 2001, over 2,000,000 people have seen over 5,400 films from more than 40 countries. The campus includes the 27,000 sq. foot Media Arts Lab, the JBFC’s state-of-the-art education center, a creative and educational community for storytellers in the digital age, offering one-time workshops, intensive courses, and weekend programs for children and adults of all ages.www.burnsfilmcenter.org