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Cristian Mungiu Tribute at Thessaloniki International Film Festival
21 October 2012
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Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, whose entire body of work will be screened during the 53rd TIFF, is one of the foremost representatives of the Romanian New Wave. In 2007, when he received the Palme d’ Or at the Cannes IFF for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a worldwide discussion of (and admiration for) contemporary Romanian cinema had just been established. Mungiu, who has referred to his beginnings as “a time when saying something about the system was more important than telling a story”, shares with his contemporaries’ their need to record and reveal the realities of their country and its troubled recent past; nevertheless, he has his own distinctive approach to filmmaking. 

Mungiu’s short films, starting with Mariana in 1997, are a fascinating specimen of his work; they are quite diverse from his feature oeuvre. In these first efforts at directing, all of which are quite accomplished, Mungiu shows a funnier streak; there is also an element of surrealism to most of these films: an Italian and a Russian conversing in their respective languages without understanding each other over a coffin in The Fireman’s Choir; the characters on television that talk directly to the obsessive protagonist in Zapping. Furthermore, the short film Turkey Girl (2005) will be screened as the seventh episode of the Tales of the Golden Age omnibus film, exactly in the manner it was first presented in Romania. 

The foundations of Mungiu’s naturalistic, anthropocentric cinema can be found in his shorts, but the director seems to have solidified his ideas, current style and approach after his first feature, Occident, in 2002. His films are not emotional, yet they stir intense reactions. They focus on the small stories of everyday people, which significantly reflect the society around them. Mungiu passes no judgment, but explores decisions and actions, as, in his cinematic universe, they are the only recourse against the plights of life and the predicaments originating from various corrupt forms of authority. 

Beyond the Hills, his masterful latest film, again revolves around a duo of girls united by a deep friendship. Voichita and Alina, who grew up together in an orphanage, have followed different paths in life; Voichita has become a nun and Alina has arrived to the monastery to persuade her to return with her to the outside world. As in all of Mungiu’s work, the crooked values of the figures of authority in the film (here, not just the church, but the health and foster systems) are testing the only honest, pure relationship in the film, the one between its two heroines. Mungiu’s –and cinematographer Oleg Mutu’s- long-take approach, as well as the constricted feeling produced by their superb use of framing and spaces, have reached their apex in the telling of the story. Beyond the Hills won the Awards for Screenplay and Best Actress -ex aequo for its two protagonists, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur- in the 2012 Cannes IFF and is Romania’s entry for the 2013 Foreign Language Academy Award. 


Beyond the Hills (Dupa dealuri), 2012, 151’, Romania/France/Belgium 
Tales of the Golden Age (Amintiri din epoca de aur), 2009, 155’, Romania 
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 Luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile), 2007, 113’, Romania 
Occident, 2002, 105’, Romania 


Turkey Girl, 2005, 20’, Romania (screened with Tales of the Golden Age)
The Fireman’s Choir (Corul Pompierilor), 2000, 30’, Romania 
Zapping, 2000, 15’, Romania
Nothing by Chance (Nici o intamplare), 1999, 17’, Romania 
The Hand of Paulista (Mana lui Paulista), 1998, 15’, Romania 
Mariana, 1997, 16’, Romania 
  4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
  Tales from the Golden Age
  Beyond the Hills
  Cristian Mungiu
  Oleg Mutu
  Mobra Films
  Cristian Mungiu Press Conference at Thessaloniki International Film Festival
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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