Radu Jude – Aferim! (2015)

 photo UUZIBEv.jpg


Jay Weissberg from Variety wrote:
A runaway gypsy slave in early 19th-century Wallachia is hunted down by a constable and his son in Radu Jude’s most accomplished and original feature yet, “Aferim!” In his two previous films, Jude’s leitmotif was people’s inhumanity to one another, full of power games and humiliations. Here he stays true to the theme, using this black-and-white uber-oater to trace the roots of Romanian society’s less positive characteristics. While its tone is occasionally overly strident, “Aferim!” is an exceptional, deeply intelligent gaze into a key historical period, done with wit as well as anger. Fests will certainly check in, with possible Euro sales among specialty distribs. Continue reading

Thomas Ciulei – Gratian (1994)

The people in Izbuc, a village in the Romanian Carpathian mountains, think thast their fellow villager Gratian Florea is a werewolf. According to an old custom, when a child is born, the midwifes call upon the spirits, to make the child hard working, beautiful, loveable or wise. It is said that when Gratian was born, the umbilical cord broke only after the midwife called forth the werewolf. This crucial moment was to influence his whole life. His family and the whole village rejected him. At 73, Gratian lives in a shack outside the village, without water of heating.
Every Saturday Gratian goes into the village to beg for the food he needs for the following week. The saying goes that those who refused to give him something will have their sheep eaten by wolves after a few days. In his solitude, Gratian works with astronomical numbers. He says that his thoughts about belief, moral values, and eternal life will help him discover infinity. He sees himself as a traveler into the universe, who at a certain time will surpass the worldly existence and the essence of his soul will become equal to God. Continue reading

Nae Caranfil – Filantropica AKA Philanthropy (2002)


Nae Caranfil’s Filantropica (Philanthropy) is a comedy about a man attempting to live beyond his means. Ovidiu (Mircea Diaconu) is a teacher and struggling writer who still resides with his parents. He falls in love with Diana (Viorica Voda), the sister of one of his students. In order to impress her he agrees to a scam thought up by the roguish Pepe (Gheorghe Dinica). The scam involves Ovidiu pretending to be married to Miruna (Mara Nicolescu). — Perry Seibert

Charity Theme Too Close to Home, 25 January 2003
Author: (sjwegg@sympatico.ca) from St. Catahrines, Ontario

Director Nae Caranfil wasn’t short of Romanian anecdotes and stories before the screening of his fourth feature film when I saw it at the Palm Springs International Film Festival: Q: What’s the difference between a Romania pessimist and optimist; A: “The pessimist says, ‘Things couldn’t possibly get worse;’ the optimist says ‘Oh yes they can.'” And when those attending revealed their knowledge of his native country was confined to the birthplace of Dracula, we were assured, with a knowing grin, that the film to follow would be “a dark, hopeless, miserable comedy.” Well, three out of four isn’t bad! Continue reading

Nicolae Margineanu – Flacari pe comori aka Flames Over Treasures [+Extras] (1988)


Deep in the Transylvanian Alps, the Archangels gold mine is the stage for an epic battle of characters. The arrogant owner is struggling with perceptions of ghosts in the mind of the miners. A maverick free-lance miner is helping him to find the source of terrifying noises that frightened his workers. A story of love, greed and betrayal having the rugged landscape of central Transylvania as a background. With few notable exceptions, everyone seems to have forgotten the biblical “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21)” Continue reading

Alexandru Tatos – Secvente AKA Sequences (1982)


Secvente(Sequences, reffering to film sequences) is Alexandru Tatos’ quintessential film and one of the stepping stones of Romanian cinematography. Sadly, although being a critics and directors favorite ever since it’s release, Secvente never managed to find a wide audience, mostly due to the limited distribution the film received during it’s initial run in the communist years. This huge injustice was disappointingly never corrected and unless word doesn’t spread over this uniquely original gem of Romanian Cinema, Secvente will most surely never reach the following it deserves. Continue reading

Sergei Loznitsa, Cristi Puiu, Neil Young – Focus Sergei Loznitsa (panel discussion) (2014)

The 2014 Astra Film Festival’s Focus Loznitsa now presents his latest documentary Maidan, alongside three of his earlier works—The Train stop(2000), Landscape (2003) and Blockade (2005)—as well as a panel discussion related to the concept of “authorship” within film-making between Sergei Loznitsa and Cristi Puiu, moderated by Neil Young (film critic, UK).

Questions arising include:

* What happens when the texture of the film is composed of images recorded directly from the immediate mundanity of the world around us?
* What happens to the position of the filmaker as author engaged in an existential understanding of the world while, for example, shooting in the central square Kiev amid full revolutionary turmoil?
* Can the film-maker avoid or resist the direct expression of his/her own political stance?
* Cinema is established as a very strong medium and, throughout its history, has been misused as a dangerous means of mass manipulation, especially when the language of the film espouses and expresses a particular political position. What is the correct standpoint of a filmmaker as an author in this situation?
* What is the role of a filmmaker concerned with the controversies of a society undergoing dramatic transformation?

The panel discussion takes place after the screening of the film Maidan Continue reading

Cristi Puiu – Un cartus de kent si un pachet de cafea AKA Cigarettes and Coffee (2004)


In Jim Jarmush’s Coffee and Cigarettes, friends meet to romanticize about their love for two savory customs. Cristi Puiu’s Cigarettes and Coffee turns Jarmush’s film around. Neither Fiul (Mimi Branescu), a young man dressed in a suit, nor Tatal (Victor Rebengiuc), his poor looking father, smoke or drink coffee as they meet in a bar to talk business. Instead, they have water, beer, and apple pie. And unlike the character’s in Jarmush’s film, Fiul’s and Tatal’s conflict is not to come to terms about myths on tobacco and caffeine. The old man in Puiu’s film actually has a serious problem. Continue reading