New York, March 17, 2022 — Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema is proud to present the extended online showcase of the 16th edition of Making Waves, available to stream nationally in the U.S. from March 25-31. A compact showcase of the series premiered in-person in December at the Jacob Burns Film Center.
The series will include two of its critically-acclaimed programmed films, Poppy Field by Eugen Jebeleanu and Unidentified by Bogdan George Apetri, while adding various fiction features, documentaries and shorts, including several U.S. premieres.
Three narrative features newly included in the program share a similar story-telling device — the death of a key character, that threatens to disrupt an already fragile balance: the familial comfort zone. This theme is present in Mikado by Emanuel Pârvu and Otto the Barbarian by Ruxandra Ghițescu, and in the form of a lifelong friendship in No Rest for the Old Lady by Andrei Gruzsniczki. Two of the four documentaries, Holy Father by Andrei Dăscălescu and Us Against Us by Andra Tarara, are extremely intimate works, mirroring each other as both directors face their fathers on camera in search of reconciliation. The remaining documentaries cover both ends of the spectrum, ranging from the experimental in You Are Ceaușescu to Me by Sebastian Mihăilescu to the nature documentary approach in Wild Romania by Dan Dinu and Cosmin Dumitrache, each surprising in their own way. A selection of Romanian shorts highlight the genre’s most recent standouts, from striking animations and zany musicals, to sharp social critiques and sympathetic stories about couples and families in crisis.
Mihai Chirilov, Artistic Director of Making Waves, says, “These are turbulent times. Watching films can be a refuge, a therapy. Not that the films we are presenting this year are escapist; the program is by no means a light proposal. It is a mix of political and personal, with violence—either physical or, in most cases, emotional—as a common thread, and a quest of finding peace and harmony. Do not expect blood on the walls or heavy gestures, but a more repressed kind of violence.”
A series of exclusive pre-recorded interviews with filmmakers and actors will also be made available to ticket holders, along with a live conversation with Variety film critic Jay Weissberg on this year’s lineup and the recent evolution of Romanian cinema will stream live on Facebook on March 26 at 9:00am EST at https://www.facebook.com/MakingWavesRO.
All film programs will be available to stream for the entire length of the series.
Admission to the series will be sold either as an all-access pass or à la carte, available in the JBFC Virtual Marquee. Pricing is $75 (JBFC members), $90 (nonmembers) for the all-access pass, or $10 (JBFC members), $12 (nonmembers) per film. Series passes are now on sale, while individual tickets will go on sale March 25.
For access to streaming and program details visit https://burnsfilmcenter.org/series/new-romanian-cinema/ and https://makingwaves.filmetc.org/festival/mw16-films/
Below is the full list of titles available to stream throughout March 25-31:
Directed by Andrei Dăscălescu
2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 85 min.
The director and his girlfriend are faced with becoming parents. What may be the next logical step in a couple’s life here becomes the trigger for an extremely personal, much-delayed quest, as the soon-to-be father must come to terms with his long-lost father, who abandoned him when he was a kid and is now a monk on Mount Athos in Greece. Reluctant to talk at first, the ‘holy father’ slowly opens up and the dynamics between the two men take center stage, underlining the director’s fear that he’s going to turn into a bad father for lack of a first-hand role model. The road to reconciliation is long and not without resentment, but a late revelation turns what begins as a story about shattered families into one about faith and hope for a better future.
Directed by Emanuel Pârvu
2021, Romania/Czech Republic, Romanian with subtitles, 96 min.
*Streaming in New York State only
Remember the childhood game of pick up sticks? The screenplay of this highly intricate and engrossing drama (directed by Emanuel Pârvu, whose acting turn in the upcoming Miracle is a standout) follows the same principle, with one small incident leading to a bigger one, further setting in motion an unpredictable string of events with irreversible consequences: one day, a teenager offers her expensive necklace to a sick child in the hospital where she volunteers. Her father is certain she is lying, but by the time she proves her innocence, the damage is done and the guilt trip begins. If you enjoyed Asghar Faradi’s A Separation, you should dig Mikado.
No Rest for the Old Lady
Directed by Andrei Gruzsniczki
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles. 99 min.
The unconditional bond between Emil and Titi, two old men living in a remote hamlet, is put to the test when Emil’s wife dies. Emil keeps himself busy, wanders around in his motorbike, cooks and cares for his wheelchair-bound friend, and clumsily prepares the 40-day memorial service for his late partner. His belief that God does not exist is challenged by Titi’s unwavering faith and reaches the boiling point when Titi confesses that the old lady’s ghost moved into his house. Complete with a cathartic confrontation, this crepuscular drama with comic touches is a bittersweet ode to a lifelong friendship and a deeply humane story about love and loss, fueled by two great performances.
Otto the Barbarian
Directed by Ruxandra Ghițescu
2020, Romania/Belgium. Romanian with subtitles, 110 min.
The second Romanian film featuring ‘barbarians’ in the title after Radu Jude’s follows a seventeen-year old punker who runs amok after his lover dies. Caught up in a vicious circle created by his parents who cannot understand him, his mute and demented grandpa and his girlfriend’s grieving mother, he gets further annoyed by the social worker investigating the tragedy. Unable to articulate his sorrow, he finds refuge in editing old videos of his girlfriend, in what feels like a desperate attempt to resurrect her—and maybe this is where the key to finally accept his guilt and move on lies. It’s an edgy film and one of the very few local productions dealing with teenage angst, brilliantly capturing that moment when, for a young person, the world seems to have ended.
Directed by Eugen Jebeleanu
2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 82 min.
Just as his long-distance boyfriend comes to visit, Cristi (Conrad Mericoffer), a young police officer, is called in for an intervention at a movie theatre, where a homophobic group has interrupted the screening of a queer-themed film. This is the starting point for a piercing portrait of a man at odds with his sexuality, trying to find a balance between his job in a macho, hierarchical environment and his personal life as a closeted gay person. The situation worsens when one of the protesters threatens to out Cristi, triggering a complex domino effect related to his identity. First-time director Jebeleanu creates, almost in real time, a tense huis-clos drama about censorship and self-censorship in a world that makes it hard to be free if you are different.
Directed by Bogdan George Apetri
2020, Romania/Latvia/Czech Republic, Romanian with subtitles, 123 min.
Despite mounting debts and a troubled personal life, a hot-headed police detective becomes obsessed with a hard case no one seems to care about. Ordered to put down the file, the cop goes rogue and comes up with a suspiciously convoluted plan designed to frame the apparent suspect, a security guard of Roma descent. There’s more than meets the eye in this slick and bleak neo-noir that tackles power abuse, corruption, and prejudice while slowly building up to a dark, staggering finale. Simultaneously shot by New York-based Apetri in his native town in Northern Romania, Unidentified and the upcoming U.S. release Miracle belong to a yet-to-be-concluded trilogy and share several key characters, but each works as a standalone piece, too.
Us Against Us
Directed by Andra Tarara
2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 74 min.
A common passion and a debilitating mental disorder bring the director and her father together and apart, in front of each other’s camera. It’s an ingenious—albeit confrontational—set-up that seems to have finally triggered a frank conversation between the two about their wounded past. As the relationship unfolds, the dialogues touch upon the inability to communicate, transmission of generational traumas, their conceptions of happiness, and the stigma of mental illness. Alternating the mutual interviewing with daily life scenes, this highly emotional film becomes a personal statement from two people affected by or marked by mental disorder—a father forced to live with it and a daughter who had to grow up with a sick and often absent father.
Directed by Dan Dinu, Cosmin Dumitrache
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 123 min.
It may be that some of the Romanian films you know and cherish—with their gritty and unflattering stories about social unrest and endemic corruption—made you think of a wild east that is unlikely to become your next travel destination. Think again! If there’s anything truly wild about Romania, it’s the savage beauty of its nature and wildlife as captured in this stunning documentary ten years in the making, including the long waits to get the right shot of an elusive animal. The resulting two hours (out of a hundred hours of raw footage) offers never-before-seen images from spectacular areas, as well as singular stories about the country’s biodiversity, narrated by the playful voice of Adrian Titieni (of Graduation fame). Book your flight now!
You Are Ceaușescu to Me
Directed by Sebastian Mihăilescu
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 100 min.
This is one of the most unusual offerings in Making Waves’ recent history: a bold cinematic work somewhere in the experimental space between fiction and documentary. Surprisingly, this intriguing oddity is less about the titular dictator and his criminal ruling and more about his early years as an aspiring communist, as reenacted by a bunch of non-professional millennials who were picked for the cast in a vacant warehouse. The ‘actors’ enter the game bearing no preconceived ideas of the dictatorship, and the more they get in character, the more they reveal about themselves during the breaks. Shot in striking black and white, this meta-film creates a collective portrait of a young generation that seems lost in the shades of grey of an ever-changing world.
New Romanian Shorts
Directed by Claudiu Mitcu
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 21 min.
An overworked surgeon who has just come out of a 31-hour shift takes on a last minute emergency, but things end badly in this tense drama about guilt, deontological ethics and the endemic corruption of the public health system.
Directed by Paul Mureșan
2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 4 min.
The classic lullaby song performed by legendary Maria Tănase gets an unofficial yet powerful music video with this dark and intriguing black and white animation about the damaging effects of domestic abuse and alcoholism.
I Am Dorin
Directed by Valeriu Andriuță
2020, Romania/Moldova, Romanian with subtitles, 23 min.
In this wild and humorous tale, a young man from the countryside accepts a sum of money in exchange for taking a bachelor's degree exam in someone else’s stead, and has one night—and what a night it is!—to get in character.
Intermission for Autonomous Vacuum and the End of the World
Directed by Eugen Dediu
2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 16 min.
Outside, the world is ending, more or less like in Don’t Look Up! Inside a house, the cleaning lady and a stranger in a bathrobe spend their last moments sharing a common passion in what feels like the perfect happy ending.
The Mouse B
Directed by Ioachim Stroe
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 18 min.
Seeking to overturn Darwin’s theory, a psychology professor is about to prove that mice are capable of empathy. But the miracle doesn’t last long, bringing down the scientist’s belief in the utopia of equality.
No Singing After 8
Directed by Alex Pintică
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 20 min.
What happens when your heartbeats are no longer in harmony? You invite another couple over for dinner and let yourself go with the song’s flow, ignoring the rule in the title. What you get is a delightful musical about love and marriage.
Directed by Miruna Minculescu
2020, Romania. No dialogue, 29 min.
Two young parents are emotionally stuck and grow more distant by the day after their four-year-old son dies. You can literally feel the grief in the air in this impressive one-shot that quietly suggests that only time can heal wounds.
Directed by Alexandru Mironescu
2021, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 26 min.
A young boy’s dream of going to a summer camp with his friends after the school year ends is threatened by his parents’ imminent divorce in this touching study of a couple in crisis and adults’ responsibilities.
Directed by Alma Buhagiar
2020, Romania, Romanian with subtitles, 23 min.
A boy who lives with his father prepares to go on a holiday with his mother. It’s a deceptively simple story whose microscopic details speak volumes about broken families and the impossibility of bringing them back together.