ROMANIAN NEW WAVE, International Spotlight "Romania at LAFF 2007"


In three short years, since Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (multiple wins including Un Certain Regard in Cannes, Silver Hugo in Chicago, and several critics awards in 2005) managed to get on scores of 10-best lists, finishing in 2006 as the No. 1 movie in the ndieWIRE Critics Poll of 107 voters, young Romanian filmmakers have made a name for themselves much like the Iranian cineastes did before them.

Director of Trafic, Catalin Mitulescu won Palme d’Or for Best Short in Cannes in 2004, then went on to direct his first feature, The Way I Spent The End Of The World which won Best European Project at Sundance, and Best Actress award at Un Certain Regard program in Cannes 2006 for its star, Doroteea Petre. She in turn had previously given an equally memorable performance in Ruxandra Zenide’s heart-breaking Ryna, which together with The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is one of the founding pillars of the Romanian New Wave.

Recent Romanian cinema has been the talk of many film festivals, from Sarajevo to Tribeca to Cannes. One of its most talented authors, writer Razvan Radulescu, penned some of the best: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and The Paper Will Be Blue, and the film that probably started it all back in 2001, Stuff and Dough, directed by Cristi Puiu. Most recently Radulescu co-wrote The Beheaded Rooster, a Romanian-Austrian-German-Hungarian co-production, which has just started touring the international festival circuit.

Then there’s Corneliu Porumboiu’s ‘s 2006 Camera d’Or-winning 12:08 East of Bucharest, followed by Cristian Mungiu’s 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days which won Palme d’Or in Cannes this year and was almost immediately picked up for U.S. theatrical distribution.

The audiences at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival (June 21-July 1) will be able to enjoy some of the Romanian virtuoso filmmaking. The International Spotlight – Romania features a mini-masterpiece, Marilena from P7, by the director who was only 27 when he was tragically killed in a car accident last August, Cristian Nemescu. Marilena is an ‘electrifying film about love, lust and bad ideas that mark adolescence’, a must-see film. Nemescu made only one more film after that, California Dreamin’, which posthumously won him the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes this year.

Also on the program are award-winning short The Tube with a Hat, directed by Radu Jude (who worked as assistant director on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), and The Paper Will Be Blue, directed by Radu Muntean and written by Razvan Radulescu. Winner of Antalya, Cottbus and Namur film festivals, the film focuses on the chaotic events of the night between December 22-23, 1989, in the immediate aftermath of Ceausescu’s fall. In the ensuing power vacuum the police, soldiers and protesters are caught in absurdly comical situations. Filmed documentary-style on the streets of Bucarest, The Paper Will Be Blue makes the confusion and absurdity palpable, and puts the viewer in the shoes of ordinary people who are trying to figure out what’s going on. Is a revolution taking place (not really), and who’s fighting whom (never clear in civil unrests)? Smartly playing their cards and mixing absurdity, humor and ambiguous melancholy of ’89 regime change is what these 30-something Romanians are darn good at doing.

Please visit to find out more about International Spotlight – Romania.


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Vera Mijojlic

Vera Mijojlic is the founder and director of the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles. Formerly a film critic in ex-Yugoslavia, she also works as a programming and marketing consultant for art house films in the U.S.

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