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Revolutions in Romanian Cinema

November 3, 2007 - December 9, 2007

The Paper Will Be Blue, December 2

Ask even hardened cinephiles to name the country that’s won the most major prizes at the Cannes film festival in the past three years, and they’ll probably come up with some of the usual suspects: France, Japan, Italy, maybe Korea. The true answer, however, is Romania, which is especially surprising considering it produces only six movies a year (the fewest in Europe). It’s not surprising at all, however, to those who have seen films like The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu (Un Certain Regard, 2005), 12:08 East of Bucharest (Caméra d’Or, 2006), or this year’s winners, California Dreamin' (Un Certain Regard) and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cannes’s top prize, the Palme d’Or). Hollywood could learn a thing or two from these models of narrative focus and invention; they create memorably idiosyncratic characters and incidents while following specific events as they unfold, usually disastrously, often comically. (As 4 Months director Cristian Mungiu notes, “Life’s misfortunes can look very funny. Provided they happen to other people.”) Their stories and settings, though, are thoroughly Romanian, and offer a glimpse into a society that’s gone through all the promises, disasters, and turmoils of dictatorship, revolution, and post-Communist reality. It’s a new breed of filmmaking, at once fast-paced and cerebral, stylized and realistic, witty and suspenseful.

PFA is proud to present nearly all of these award-winning films (while we await a local release of 4 Months, we offer a chance to see the director’s very rare first film, Occident), as well as other selections from, to quote Ali Jaafar in Variety, “the emerging powerhouse in world cinema.”

Jason Sanders
Associate Film Notes Writer

Saturday, November 3, 2007
6:00 p.m. The Way I Spent the End of the World
Romania’s entry for this year’s Oscars is a surprisingly warmhearted coming-of-age story set during the final months of Ceauşescu’s rule. With a radiant performance by Dorotheea Petre, Best Actress winner at Cannes. Repeated on Sunday, November 4.

Saturday, November 3, 2007
8:10 p.m. California Dreamin’ (Endless)
An American military convoy is stranded in a small Romanian town in Cristian Nemescu’s sharp comedy of corruption and international miscommunication.

Sunday, November 4, 2007
4:30 p.m. The Way I Spent the End of the World
Please see Saturday, November 3.

Saturday, November 17, 2007
6:00 p.m. Occident
The debut film by Cristian Mungiu is a comic triptych of life in the New Romania.

Sunday, November 25, 2007
3:00 p.m. The Great Communist Bank Robbery
“Alexandru Solomon’s film is both a bizarre recreation of a crime of which the motive is still difficult to fathom and an astonishing evocation of a lost world of Romanian Stalinism.”—BBC. With short Tertium non datur.

Sunday, November 25, 2007
3:00 p.m. The Great Communist Bank Robbery

Sunday, November 25, 2007
5:15 p.m. Children of the Revolution: Recent Romanian Shorts
Short films by some of Romania’s leading directors—Cristi Puiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, and Cătălin Mitulescu, among others—reveal generations in transition.

Sunday, December 2, 2007
5:15 p.m. The Paper Will Be Blue
A clueless tank crew wanders Bucharest’s chaotic streets on the night that Ceauşescu falls in Radu Muntean’s wry, humanist portrait of historic times.

Sunday, December 2, 2007
7:05 p.m. 12:08 East of Bucharest
A provincial TV talk show turns into a battle over the history of the Romanian revolution in Corneliu Porumboiu’s hilarious allegory. With short Humanitarian Aid.

Sunday, December 2, 2007
7:05 p.m. 12:08 East of Bucharest

Sunday, December 9, 2007
4:30 p.m. The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu
Cristi Puiu’s saga of the last hours in the life of a cranky Bucharest widower is “both sad and darkly funny . . . sharply conceived and richly populated.”—Chicago Reader. “A thorny masterpiece.”—N.Y. Times

Series organized with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute, New York. Special thanks to Oana Radu, RCINY; Alina Salcudeanu, Romanian National Center for Cinema (CNC); Ilinca Ilie, Romanian Embassy, Washington, DC; and Peggy Parsons, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, for their invaluable assistance.