Sunday, November 28, 2010

Those new Romanian movies you keep hearing about? See 'em, Dec 3rd thru 5th!

A New Beginning is the theme of of this year's Romanian Film Festival, the 5th annual, to be held here in New York City at the Tribeca Cinemas from Friday, December 3, through Sunday, December 5. Each year, the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York rounds up what is determined to be the best among the most recent of the country's movies, which seem to be -- to TrustMovies' mind, at least -- among the world's best. And darkest. Ever since Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu burst on the scene back in 2005 (in concept and execution, this remains among the great films of all time), Romanian cinema has provided one example after another of top-drawer cinema.  (You can browse the entire festival program -- and purchase tickets -- by clicking here.)

Included in the program will be nine narrative features, three documentaries, five shorts and one film that I guess you might call a rediscovery: Lucian Pintilie's movie from1981, Carnival Scenes, which, upon its initial release, was banned for a decade.  Most of these will be having their New York, if not their entire USA, premieres; only three of the films have been seen here previously -- Tuesday, After ChristmasAurora; and The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu -- and these only at festivals, as none has yet received a theatrical release.

This is a great line-up, and there are two films in particular that I can recommend (being the only ones in the fest I've so far seen). The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (above, and already shown here during this year's NY Film Festival) is the kind of movie that makes you wish you were Romanian -- not so much to have been able to live under the Ceausescu regime but to better follow and understand all the details of this amazing work. Kino Caravan -- a most interesting and surprising narrative film about film that takes place soon after the Communist takeover of Romania -- begins as a comedy (albeit a comedy of fear) then it grows into a kind of love story that turns quite dark. Beautifully acted, especially by the two leads Iulia Lumânare  (below, right) and Doru Boguta (below, left) and written and directed (by Titus Muntean, from a short story by Ioan Groşan), this is a film that keeps expanding, while challenging us to keep up.

The three day schedule is a packed one, and because two theaters are involved, it's probably not possible to see everything. Whatever you choose, though, chances are you'll be rewarded.

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