Monday 29 October 2012

Romanian Film in London

There's something about new Romanian cinema... A certain "je ne sais quoi" that, while watching the film, and then quite a long time afterwards, makes you think of the meaning of life, relationships, society, and even recent history. Or, at least, that's the effect it has on me.

The so-called New Wave of Romanian cinema broke onto the international stage around 2004, seemingly coming from nowhere - or that's how things looked like to Western audience and film specialists. There is quite a long history of film-making in Romania, that also counts a Cannes Best Director Award for Liviu Ciulei, in 1965, for Forest of the Hanged. There is also Lucian Pintilie, the realist master who fled Romania in the early 1980s after the censorship banned the screening of all his films to date. Or Dan Pita, sidetracked when his film Sand Cliffs, a scathing depiction of the vengefulness of idividuals in positions of power, was personally banned by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. 

Even if people might not be aware of this history, the good thing is that they are aware of new Romanian cinema, and appreciate it. And I like to believe that one of the channels that had quite a contribution towards promoting it in the UK was the Romanian Film Festival in London. From its first edition in 2003, the Festival presented some of the newest and best Romanian films, including the short and debut films of people who've become by now household names of the arthouse circuit: Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu, Corneliu Porumboiu. 

This year's edition, titled The Other Side of Hope,  takes place from 22 to 25 November, at the Renoir Cinema in Bloomsbury, a very short walk away from Russell Square tube station.

The full programme was announced recently, and it looks very promising.
Beyond the Hills, the new film by Cristian Mungiu, is presented in the gala screening on 22nd November, with Principles of Life by Constantin Popescu on the 23rd, Everybody in Our Family by Radu Jude on the 24th, and Periferic, Bogdan George Apetri's debut feature film, on the 25th. As a special treat, another screening will take place on 26 November, at the European Bank for Development and Reconstruction, in the City: Medal of Honour by Calin Peter Netzer, featuring and amazing performance by Victor Rebengiuc, the lead actor from Forest of the Hanged.

I recommend warmly these screenings to all film-lovers. This is Romanian cinema at its best: superb cinematography, uncompromising stories, and also the usual dose of gallows humour. There will also be guests from Romania who will take part in Q&A sessions for every film - yet another reason for you to be there. 

Full details of the Festival are on the website For your benefit, I include here a short Festival Trailer (edited by yours truly).

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