Radu Jude – O umbra de nor AKA Shadow of a Cloud (2013)

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“My wretched life has passed like a deep sleep, like the shadow of a cloud, withering like a wildflower. And the joints of my limbs have begun to weaken, to twist and shake in my body. And my evil deeds have surpassed the countless grains of sand in the sea.” (fragment from a prayer)
In a torrid summer day in Bucharest, the priest Florin Florescu is called to a dying woman’s side for saying a prayer. Continue reading

Radu Jude – Aferim! (2015)

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Story
Set in early 19th century Wallachia, when a local policeman, Costandin, is hired by Iordache, a boyar (local noble), to find Carfin, a Gypsy slave who had run away from the boyar’s estate after having an affair with his wife, Sultana. Costandin sets out to find the fugitive, beginning a journey full of adventures. Gypsy slavery lasted from the 14th century up until the middle of the 19th century, a situation which is very little known and almost nonexistent in the public debate today, although its impact continues to influence Romania’s social life. Continue reading

Nicolae Margineanu – Poarta Alba AKA White Gate (2014)

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Adrian and Ninel are among the inmates crammed into the freight cars that have just arrived in one of the forced labor camps of the Danube-Black Sea Canal. Among those convicted, there are teachers, lawyers, poets, philosophers, peasants, artists, scientists. Gradually, they realize they are there because the communist regime wants to exterminate them all. Continue reading

Radu Jude – Aferim! (2015)

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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)

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ALLMOVIE:
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

IMDB:
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