Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema U.S. Tour Now Available to Stream Online
The streaming edition of the retrospective encompasses 15 cinematic works including seminal, award-winning films such as Luxury Hotel by Dan Pița, winner of Venice Film Festival Silver Lion; The Death of Mr Lăzărescu by Cristi Puiu, winner of Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival; Videograms of a Revolution by Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujică; Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard: Best Actress-winner The Way I Spent the End of the World by Cătălin Mitulescu; CPH:DOX Amnesty Award-winner Crulic: The Path to Beyond by Anca Damian; Cannes Film Festival Golden Camera-winner Stuff and Dough by Cristi Puiu and more.
This cinematic event marks the first time many of these titles are available online, allowing these groundbreaking films to be seen by a wider audience. Select titles will also screen in Virtual Cinema format in collaboration with leading arthouse cinemas including New York’s Film Forum and the Lightbox Film Center in Philadelphia.
Spanning the 30 years since the revolution of 1989 and the fall of communism, this comprehensive series presents titles from the recent history of Romanian cinema. Naturally, history is the running theme in most films. In the 1990s, directors who found themselves freed from the tyranny of censorship rushed out in the open to tell stories from the recent past. In the following two decades, younger directors went back in time on their own terms and came up with a fresh perspective on the communist era. Even when they chronicled the present with incisive slices of contemporary life, the dark shadows of the past still permeated their stories like familiar ghosts. Then there is the enigma of the revolution itself, which continues to beg for closure. And, despite its apparent diversity, this vast retrospective works best as a history lesson served in the most entertaining form: movies.
Below is the full list of titles available to stream throughout 2020:
Aferim!, Radu Jude, 2015
Crulic: The Path to Beyond, Anca Damian, 2011
Dogs, Bogdan Mirică, 2016, available in the U.S. June 12
Domestic, Adrian Sitaru, 2012
Do Not Lean Out the Window, Nae Caranfil, 1993, available in the U.S. May 29
Luxury Hotel, Dan Pița, 1992, available in the U.S. June 26
Niki and Flo, Lucian Pintilie, 2003
Of Snails and Men, Tudor Giurgiu, 2012
Pororoca, Constantin Popescu, 2017
Stuff and Dough, Cristi Puiu, 2001, available in the U.S. June 5
The Death of Mr Lăzărescu, Cristi Puiu, 2005
The Great Communist Bank Robbery, Alexandru Solomon, 2004
The State of Things, Stere Gulea, 1995, available in the U.S. June 19
The Way I Spent the End of the World, Cătălin Mitulescu, 2006
Videograms of a Revolution, Harun Farocki & Andrei Ujică, 1992, available in the U.S. May 29
For access to streaming and program details visit
Corina Suteu, festival president and co-curator of Making Waves states, “We believe that now more than ever, audiences deserve access to all forms of art and cinema to put our world into perspective and to reflect on the beauty and fragility of the human condition. These Romanian films culled from the thirty year period since the fall of communism mark a cycle of creative freedom in Romanian cinema. This series is truly unique, offering a most comprehensive and compelling survey of the brilliance and intensity of talent of various generations.This retrospective ensures that their creative voices will be heard in the wider world.”
Kate MacKay, Associate Film Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, states, “Thirty years after the revolution in Romania these films remain as meaningful as ever as the shadows of totalitarianism and corruption are increasingly evident everywhere and protesters take to the streets around the globe.”
The Romanians: 30 Years of Cinema Revolution is organized by the Making Waves Film Festival and Cinema Projects. Produced by Corina Șuteu and Oana Radu, and curated by Mihai Chirilov, David Schwartz (Cinema Projects) and Corina Șuteu. Produced and presented with the support of the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Dacin Sara, Romanian Filmmakers Union, the Romanian National Film Center, Blue Heron Foundation, Galeria Plan B, Mobius Gallery, Gentica Foundation, and numerous individual donors.
About the Films
Directed by Radu Jude
2015, Romania/Bulgaria /Czech Republic, 105 min.
Now streaming at http://aferim.filmetc.org/.
“Shot in richly toned, wide-screen black and white, Aferim! looks like an elegant exercise in period playacting. But it casts a fierce, revisionist eye on the past, finding the cruelty and prejudice that lie beneath the pageantry.” - The New York Times
Radu Jude’s international breakthrough is a picaresque odyssey through 19th-century Romania, which tackles one of the most shameful episodes in the country’s history: the enslavement of the Roma people. As a bounty hunter and his son scour the mountains for a fugitive slave, they are thrown into a series of encounters that are, in turn, scathingly funny or utterly horrifying. Stunningly shot in glimmering, widescreen black and white, Aferim! plays like a classic Western spring-loaded with cutting social commentary.
Crulic: the Path to Beyond
Written and directed by Anca Damian
2011, Romania/Poland, 73 min.
Now streaming at http://crulic.filmetc.org/.
This chilling documentary is “narrated” by Claudiu Crulic, a young Romanian in Poland who was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, only to become a pawn in a Kafkaesque miscarriage of justice that resulted in his death from a hunger strike. Combining innovative hand-drawn, cutout and collage animation techniques, director Anca Damian crafts a devastating portrait of a man who stood up to an uncaring bureaucracy – and paid the ultimate price.
Written and directed by Bogdan Mirică
2016, Romania/France/Bulgaria/Qatar,104 min. Film Stills
Available to stream starting June 14 at http://dogs.filmetc.org/.
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 was the local crimelord. 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 villain, as in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Snowpiercer). Meanwhile, a local policeman is investigating the discovery of a severed foot, but what he’s really looking for is revenge on his lifetime nemesis at any cost. If the Coen brothers had been Balkan born, this is how No Country for Old Men would have turned out. 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.
Written and directed by Adrian Sitaru
2012, Romania/Germany, 85 min.
Now streaming at http://domestic.filmetc.org/.
There’s a tender and humorous touch to this light collection of tales about people who eat the animals they love, and the animals that love people unconditionally. A rabbit, a cat, a dog, a hen, and a pigeon share screen time with a wonderful ensemble of actors playing the residents of an apartment building, revealing the very small distance that separates humans from animals. Despite a certain cruelty or disdain for the creatures in question, the eventual love one finds in an animal companion is wonderful to witness in Adrian Sitaru’s masterfully written and choreographed film.
Do Not Lean Out the Window
Written and directed by Nae Caranfil
1993, Romania/ France, 104 min.
Available to stream starting May 29 at http://donotlean.filmetc.org/.
If any film can be said to bridge the gap between Romanian cinema prior to 1989 and today, it’s Nae Caranfil’s Don’t Lean Out the Window, a wry look at the final years of communism. The film follows the stories of two young men and a woman – humorously labeled The Student, The Actor and The Soldier – and then intertwines them, charting their journeys in a system that’s collapsing around them. In the course of the film, the three switch roles, the actor becoming a soldier of sorts while the student learns the value of acting. Unlike many other Romanian films of the era, Don’t Lean Out the Window refused to engage in the polemic that emerged with the fall of communism. Its protagonists are nuanced, complex characters, who’ve learned to survive and even thrive in an environment that often bred hypocrisy in even the simplest of social exchanges.
Written and directed by Dan Pița
1992, Romania/France, 107 min.
Available to stream starting June 26 at http://luxuryhotel.filmetc.org/.
An ambitious young manager attempts to refresh the stale ambiance of a restaurant inside a luxury hotel, only to find his initiatives questioned by the boss of the establishment. Punished for his daring, he is downgraded from the higher floors where the privileged live to the very basement of the Kafkaesque building and has to face treachery and deceit that prevent him from leading a normal life. A Silver Lion winner at the 1992 Venice Festival, this visual feast is a curious allegory about living in a totalitarian regime, in which the main character is Ceaușescu’s pharaonic palace and the heaviest building in the world, ironically called The People’s House.
Niki and Flo
Directed by Lucian Pintilie
2003, Romania/France, 105 min.
Now streaming at http://nikiandflo.filmetc.org/.
A very black comedy, Niki and Flo is about ill-suited neighbors united by marriage. Angela and her husband have decided to leave Romania for a better life in the United States. Niki, Angela's father, a former colonel in the Romanian army, is torn between his wish to see his daughter happy and his desire to have her remain nearby. Meanwhile Flo, the father of Niki's son-in-law and a domestic tyrant of sorts, slowly exerts his control over Niki. The screenplay was written by Cristi Puiu and Răzvan Rădulescu, who collaborated on Stuff and Dough and The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu.
Of Snails and Men
Directed by Tudor Giurgiu
2012, Romania/France, 100 min.
Now streaming at http://ofsnailsandmen.filmetc.org/.
A group of desperate workers come up with the unusual idea of donating sperm in order to save their car factory from bankruptcy and, consequently, from being privatized. The official line is that French investors plan to take over the plant and convert it into a snail cannery. But the stark truth is that they will just sell off the heavy machinery and disappear. This Full Monty-like bittersweet comedy is based on a true story from Romania in the 1990s, fresh from overthrowing Ceauşescu’s regime, when Romanians thought that anything was possible.
Written and directed by Constantin Popescu
2017, Romania/France, 152 min.
Now streaming at http://pororoca.filmetc.org/.
“This is muscular hard-art fare that… could propel Popescu into the upper ranks of his country’s auteurs.” – Variety
It is every loving parent’s worst nightmare: the devastating disappearance of a beloved child, and then their desperate struggle to stay sane while trying to save their marriage. The long scene in which the little girl goes missing in a park full of people is a movie in itself, masterfully staged by Constantin Popescu (Tales from the Golden Age), and challenges us to pinpoint the exact moment when everything goes wrong. It makes for intense viewing that is only more visceral thanks to Bogdan Dumitrache’s raw performance playing the father consumed with obsession and guilt.
Stuff and Dough
Directed by Cristi Puiu
2001, Romania, 90 min.
Available to stream starting June 5 at http://stuffanddough.filmetc.org/.
The “stuff” in this debut feature by The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu and Sieranevada director Cristi Puiu – one of the pioneers of the post-Ceauşescu Romanian filmmaking renaissance – is a satchel full of black-market prescription drugs. The “dough” is 2,000 lei (around $500) promised to small-town teen Ovidiu (Alexandru Papadopol) if he agrees to carry the package to Bucharest on behalf of a local gangster (Răzvan Vasilescu). He does, inviting his slacker friend Vali (Dragoş Bucur) along for the ride, who in turn invites his apathetic girlfriend Bety (Ioana Flora). This unlikely trio then takes to the highway – the hilariously deadpan road movie that results is a reminder that Puiu, who originally had ambitions of becoming a visual artist, has cited a viewing of Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law as a key event in his decision to pursue filmmaking.
The Death of Mr Lăzărescu
Directed by Cristi Puiu
2005, Romania, 154 min.
Now streaming at http://thedeathofmrlazarescu.filmetc.org/.
The film that, for many people, signaled the emergence of the new Romanian cinema, Cristi Puiu’s second feature was a revelation at Cannes 2005, where it took top prize in the Un Certain Regard section. A sardonic, darkly humorous, compulsively vibrant feature, The Death of Mr Lăzărescu seems so realistic and convincing, unfolding as though in real time, that it’s hard to believe it was acted. As it 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 individuality and articulate self-defensiveness. Compassion and indifference clash, often within the same person. The fluid, mobile camera recalls the great works of Fred Wiseman and John Cassavetes. Luminița Gheorghiu, who plays the good-samaritan nurse, was named Best Supporting Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
The Great Communist Bank Robbery
Written and directed by Alexandru Solomon
2004, Romania/France, 75 min.
Now streaming at http://thegreatcommunistrobbery.filmetc.org/.
An unusual robbery at the Romanian National Bank in 1959 triggered a massive police search, and an even more unusual outcome. When the alleged burglars were caught and arrested, they reenacted their crime for a TV movie film in which they played themselves. Although evidence suggests the criminals believed they would be spared the death sentence by appearing in the film, the reality was different. Described by director Alexandru Solomon as a “political detective story,” this documentary investigates both a historical mystery and the transformation of history into film.
The State of Things
Directed by Stere Gulea
1995, Romania, 89 min.
Now streaming at https://makingwaves.filmetc.org/state-of-things/.
Stere Gulea’s film seems intent on revealing life’s tragic paradoxes and sad ironies as reflected in recent Romanian history. It is December 21, 1989 and a severely wounded teenager shows up in the middle of the night at the front door of a young nurse. She takes him to a hospital where her fiancé works, only to find the teenager in the hospital’s morgue the following morning, shot in the head. In the chaos that ensues, the couple is pressured into providing fake documents that would absolve the secret police of being responsible for his death, as well as many others. The woman refuses to collaborate and thus her nightmare begins: She is arrested and convicted on a trumped-up charge, and is consequently humiliated, beaten and raped in prison. Her only comfort remains the child she is carrying.
The Way I Spent the End of the World
Directed by Cătălin Mitulescu
2006, Romania, 101 min.
Now streaming at http://howispentendoftheworld.filmetc.org/.
Bucharest 1989: the last year of Ceauşescu’s dictatorship. Eva lives with her parents and her seven-year-old brother Lalalilu. She is 17 years old, very attractive and caught up in the turmoil of falling in love for the first time while struggling to come of age. Eva has a secret
dream she shares only with her brother: escaping from Romania and traveling the world. Along with his best friends from school, Lalalilu devises a plan to kill the dictator so that Eva can stay and live in a free country. The Way I Spent the End of the World opened in Cannes 2006, in the Un Certain Regard section, with Dorotheea Petre winning the Special Jury Award for Best Actress
Videograms of a Revolution
Directed by Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujică
1992, Germany, 106 min.
Available to stream starting May 29 at http://videogramsofarevolution.filmetc.org.
For Videograms of a Revolution, Andrei Ujică and Harun Farocki collected amateur video and material broadcast by Romanian state television after it was taken over by demonstrators in December 1989. The audio and video represent the first revolution in which television played a major role. The film’s protagonist is contemporary history itself.