19 edycja

Mechanisms of Reality

 Europe was first conquered by the Italian neorealism in film and then the French New Wave; at the end of 1970s the world was talking about Polish cinema of moral unrest, and today the time has come for the Romanian cinematography – brave, penetrating, balanced and accurate films. They are ordinary and with no fireworks, but at the same time they touch upon the essence of human drama. They are immersed in the local, but they are universal at the same time. In Romanian cinema reality and film fiction reveal the truth about humanity.

Everything started with “Marfa si banii” (Stuff and Dough), the debut of Cristi Puiu, who is sometimes called the Christ of the Romanian New Wave. He paved the way for other artists and directors and showed how to make a great movie with a tight budget, how to maximise the content and reduce the form. What is the recipe for Romanian films? Great actors who practise their parts with the directors until they are able to improvise. Fantastic dialogues which seem to have been overheard in the street: sometimes absurd and striking monologues, sometimes one sentence that tells everything. A fine-tuned screenplay without a single unnecessary word, and action that usually does not last longer than a day, so that the dramatic effect is achieved.

Romanian cinema is made by director-authors who are one-man bands. Nearly all of them are scriptwriters and producers. Some of them play the main parts, compose the scores, are casting directors, as well as costume and set designers.

Romanian cinema is addressed to attentive and patient viewers. The directors avoid straightforwardness in the characters’ actions and leave a lot of space for the viewers’ interpretation. The last scene usually contains what is the most important and the viewers are left speechless. They are looking at the credits trying to figure out what has just happened.

Romanian cinema is full of grotesque and black humor, just like “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” by Cristi Puiu or “12:08 East of Bucharest” by Corneliu Porumboiu. Although the viewers may laugh, they never know when the laughter will get stuck in their throat; they can never be safe since the absurd may instantaneously turn into tragedy.

Romanian cinema is critically acclaimed and has garnered numerous film awards: The Palme d’Or for the “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” by Cristian Mungiu, Golden Bear for “Child’s Pose” by Călin Peter Netzer; every second director has been chosen for the Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, and nearly all directors hold a prize from an international film festival. It is very difficult to be a young Romanian director and not to receive an important international award.

Romanian cinema looks for limits in film. Although from the very beginning of the Romanian New Wave in 2001 many predicted its imminent end, the artists are still full of energy and they look for new forms of expression; they focus on the experiments that would defy conventions and change the habits of the viewers. No wonder that cinema is the best and the most important thing exported from Romania; it is an example of minimalism that produces maximal effects, of inconspicuous recklessness, and of beating drums barely louder than a whisper.

 Małgorzata Rejmer

Mechanisms of Reality