Is this a new era of Romanian cinema?

by Anastasia Cojocaruimg-beyond-the-hills_115329326091

Have you ever tried something truly different when it comes to movies? Do you think your cinematic experience has influences from all over the world? Think again. Here you have some Romanian movies which are representative for the entrance of this cinema in a new era.

            The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005), the winner of Un Certain Regard Prize, tells the story of Mr Lazarescu, a 63-year-old widower who is the hero of this magnificent movie from Romanian director Cristi Puiu. It is about the final stages of old age – a comedy with something similar with the documentary style of Frederick Wiseman and Samuel Beckett. The character reaches a critical point of mortality after being gradually torn apart by his illnesses, aches and pains. At that point, he is in between being unwell and being a dead man walking. The paramedic Mioara is the only person who cares about Mr Lazarescu, while the other characters are concerned about trivial matters and ignore the state of the patient. It may seem bizarre to claim that this film about an ill man is funny but in fact the reaction of almost all characters to his situation is absolutely hilarious.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days took the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May 2007 and the setting of this movie is 1987, Romania. It was the period 20 years after Nicolae Ceaușescu had outlawed abortion to increase birth rates. This movie seems to be set in a distant and recent era at once. Humanity is slowly degraded by the present state of trivial affairs without the film being overtly political. It tells the story of two students in their early 20s, Otilia and Gabriela, who share a dorm in a provincial town. Otilia is the one who offers to help her friend, Gabriela, who is pregnant in the precise degree mentioned in the title and at this point termination would become an act of murder according to the Romanian law. It is an peculiar film, the spectator being detached and emotionally involved at the same time.

Beyond the Hills (2012) was given the prize for best screenplay and best actress award at Cannes. The two leading characters, Alina and Voichita, were roommates in an orphanage and there are some hints throughout the film which could refer to a lesbian connection between the two. Alina has returned from Germany to take her friend who is now a nun in a monastery. Voichita does not want to follow her friend to a liberating life waitressing on a tourist boat in Germany because she claims that she has found God. Alina becomes an object of brutal exorcism and the end of the movie reveals a society dominated by cruelty, indifference and lack of charity.

Last but not least, Child’s pose (2013) has won the Berlin Golden Bear and belongs to the ‘slice-of-life’ cinema type. The film delivers a fascinating insight into the post-Ceaușescu society which is dominated by bureaucracy and corruption. A wealthy and overprotective mother has a difficult relationship with her spoilt grown up son and tries to get him out of trouble by speaking to people and bribing them.

These movies will definitely leave you with some deeply moving images and will eventually become food for thought for an attentive observer.

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