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Riding The New Wave of Romanian Cinema


Monday, October 22---------On Saturday, veteran film journalist Nick Roddick led a provocative discussion on the sudden emergence of film gems from what had seemed like a most unlikely source: Romania. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS (which is screening at the London Film Festival) was the surprise winner of the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival (a first from the cinema of that rather unknown and misunderstood country). Attention is definitely focused on the former Communist state as a new hotbed for the hottest talents working in international cinema.

The panelists included  Cristian Mungiu, the acclaimed director of 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS; Andrei Boncea, producer of CALIFORNIA DREAMIN', which screens at the Festival; Adina Bradeanu, Romanian film journalist; and Ada Solomon, film producer and Executive Director of NexT Cultural Society & NexT Film Festival in Bucharet. The panel discussed the success of such breakout films as the critical favorites THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (directed by Cristi Puiu) and 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST (Corneliu Porumboiu), which singlehandedly put contemporary Romanian cinema on the map. Now with the high profile of Mungiu's film, Romania has become the new "it" country on the world stage of cinema.

Panelists discussed why they felt the Romanian cinema was suddenly hot, while also questioning if there is truly a "national cinema" in place to take advantage of all the acclaim and attention. Some speakers felt that this sudden focus is nothing more than fate....the unlikely convergence of a number of buzz-worthy films made within a short span of time, which just happen to share a national origin. Others felt that the drama of recent Romanian history with the deposing of the autocrat Ceaucescieu and his wife by firing squad and the explosion of artistic freedom has made the country an incubator for new trends and ideas. Wherever the truth may lie, the fact is that Romanian cinema is having its moment and could generate the newest of the New Waves, as Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and South Korea have done in recent years. The best way to sample the new Romanian cinema is to catch both 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS and CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' during their runs at the London Film Festival. Then, you can decide if this is a passing fad, or the start of a noble cinema tradition.

Sandy Mandelberger, London FF Dailies Editor

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