The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Romanian Film Initiative have announced the lineup for the 10th Edition of Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema (December 2-7), which was hailed by The New York Times as one of the “annual treasures” of the Film Society’s programming. This year’s festival offers a selection of the best in contemporary Romanian filmmaking, including features, documentaries, and shorts, along with classic and landmark films, panels, and other special programs focusing on the work of Romanian directors. For the third consecutive year, select films will also screen at the Jacob Burns Film Center, from December 3-8.
“We’re pleased to welcome back Making Waves for its 10th anniversary edition,” said Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming. “It has been yet another banner year for Romanian cinema, and we’re looking forward to presenting this rich and varied selection of new work alongside some old favorites.”
The festival’s artistic director Mihai Chirilov stated: “Revisiting classic titles such as The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu and California Dreamin’ (Endless) and honoring Mircea Daneliuc, an influential master of the Romanian cinema, make for an extremely exciting 10-year anniversary—of both the festival and the Romanian New Wave breakthrough in the U.S. And this year there are enough great new titles not only to enhance such a rounded celebration but also to reinforce a cinematic trend that hasn’t lost any of its power to surprise and impress.”
Titles fresh from Cannes and Berlin lead the slate of new features, including Corneliu Porumboiu’s outrageous fairy tale, The Treasure; Radu Jude’s Aferim!; Radu Muntean’s subtle morality play, One Floor Below; and Why Me?, the Sidney Lumet–esque political thriller by Tudor Giurgiu, based on real events.
This year’s festival will feature a special tribute screening of Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu (2005), commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Making Waves. A seminal title of the Romanian New Wave, this dark comedy was presented at the first edition of the festival in 2006 and took American critics by storm, helping to establish Romania as a major player in the international landscape of contemporary art cinema.
Making Waves will also present a tribute to one of Romania’s greatest filmmakers, Mircea Daneliuc, whose work inspired the Romanian New Wave and who will join the festival as this year’s special guest. With a career spanning four decades, 17 features (writing 16 of them) and 11 movie roles, plus several plays, novels, and short stories, Daneliuc has amassed an oeuvre of subversive films anchored in reality but showcasing a mordant dark humor and unrelenting satire. Daneliuc’s uncompromising Intimate Bed will ignite Making Waves’ 10th edition as the Opening Night film.
Completing this exciting lineup are Alexander Nanau’s raw survival documentary Toto and His Sisters and a selection of short films, including the newest from Cristi Puiu and Ramona, the Cannes prize-winning noir.
The 2015 Edition of Making Waves will also feature panels, special guests, and a continuation of the Creative Freedom Through Cinema program, which examines the relationship between art and politics in Eastern Europe, and will spotlight films from Georgia and the Republic of Moldova Georgia is experiencing a cinematic renaissance thanks to recent festival hits such as Blind Dates and In Bloom, while Moldova is a place rarely seen on screen—although it gave us Oleg Mutu, one of the most acclaimed cinematographers in the world, who has collaborated with esteemed directors like Cristian Mungiu and Sergey Loznitsa. Both countries are represented in this year’s program with films about survival in the harshest conditions: George Ovashvili’s top prize winner in Karlovy Vary Corn Island and Igor Cobileanski’s The Unsaved, which features Mutu’s impressive camerawork.
Guests of this year’s festival include directors Mircea Daneliuc, Tudor Giurgiu, Dan Chișu, Oana Giurgiu, Andrei Crețulescu, Luiza Pârvu, and Andreea Vălean; actors Cecilia Bârbora, Andi Vasluianu, Emilian Oprea, and Mihai Constantin; and producers Ada Solomon, Codruța Crețulescu, and Toma Peiu.
Tickets for the Film Society of Lincoln Center screenings go on sale Thursday, November 19. A $99 All Access Pass and a 3+ film discount package will be available. For free screenings and events, complimentary tickets are available starting one hour prior to showtime at the corresponding venue’s box office.
All films in Romanian with English subtitles unless otherwise noted. Please note screening venues: Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) and Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC).
Intimate Bed / Patul conjugal
Mircea Daneliuc, Romania, 1993, 101m
Vasile Potop is a movie theater manager in post-1989 Romania. The economy is down, audiences have abandoned moviegoing for television news, and Vasile’s home life is brimming with tedium and disgust. He feels happy only when locked in his office with Stela, the cinema cashier—but even that doesn’t last long. All around him, people are trying to make a quick buck by devising grotesque business schemes—including his wife, who plans to sell their soon-to-be-born baby. And we’re not even halfway through this anarchic gig. Intimate Bed is artistic indignation at its best, satire that cuts to the bone and beyond. Daneliuc’s delirious, cynical film is the most accurate portrayal of the messy transitions in Romanian society of the 1990s.
Wednesday, December 2, 7:00PM, FSLC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Mircea Daneliuc)
Radu Jude, Romania/Bulgaria/Czech Republic, 2015, 105m
The third and most ambitious feature to date by Radu Jude (Everybody in Our Family) is a captivating road movie that employs the conventions of the Western to tell an Eastern tale of gypsy slavery. Based on a little-talked-about moment in Romania’s past, this story of a policeman and his son searching for a fugitive in 19th-century southern Romania unfolds with remarkable fluidity, employing gorgeous and crisp black-and-white photography, uniquely archaic-sounding language, a perfect sense of location, and great attention to historical detail. Variety called this period film, which represents Romania in this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race, “an exceptional, deeply intelligent gaze into a key historical period, done with wit as well as anger.” A Big World Pictures Release.
Monday, December 7, 8:30PM, FSLC (Introduction by and Q&A with producer Ada Solomon)
Tuesday, December 8, 7:40PM, JBFC (Introduction by and Q&A with producer Ada Solomon)
The Treasure / Comoara
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania/France, 2015, 89m
An average family man who likes to read adventure stories to his son at bedtime seizes the opportunity to overcome his gray existence when a neighbor approaches him with a surreal offer: if he can provide a metal detector to help find the treasure buried in his grandparents’ garden, he’ll get half of whatever they uncover. In this stylized, uplifting, and deadpan fairy tale, the action gets crazier as the digging progresses. Audiences will be surprised by the emotional climax of this Cannes prizewinner, which cements Corneliu Porumboiu’s reputation as one of the most original directors working in Romania today. An NYFF52 selection. A Sundance Selects Release.
Saturday, December 5, 9:30PM, FSLC
Saturday, December 5, 8:15PM, JBFC
One Floor Below / Un etaj mai jos
Radu Muntean, Romania/France/Germany/Sweden, 2015, 93m
Radu Muntean’s long-awaited follow-up to his 2010 critical hit Tuesday, After Christmas, is a simmering anti-thriller about a family man, Sandu (Teodor Corban), who overhears the conclusion of a heated argument between his downstairs neighbor Laura (Maria Popistașu) and her boyfriend Vali (Iulian Postelnicu). When Laura is found dead in her apartment the next day, it appears that Sandu may have witnessed the prelude to a too-close-to-home murder. He soon finds his ability to keep his head down tested by the need to protect his family as the menacing Vali begins inserting himself in their lives. Muntean gracefully and economically weds 19th-century Russian literature’s preoccupation with hard questions of morality and the Romanian New Wave’s exceptional attentiveness to the rhythms and political resonances of daily life.
Thursday, December 3, 9:00PM, FSLC
Friday, December 4, 4:30PM, FSLC
Why Me? / De ce eu?
Tudor Giurgiu, Romania/Bulgaria/Hungary, 2015, 130m
An ambitious young prosecutor (played with dark intensity by newcomer Emilian Oprea) is surprised to be assigned a sensitive case involving an older colleague accused of corruption. But what could have been a springboard for his career turns out to be quite the opposite, as it’s revealed that he may be a mere pawn on a cynical chessboard. Based on tragic true events, this Sidney Lumet–esque political thriller about one man’s fight against the system finds director Tudor Giurgiu in a more serious mode after his crowd-pleasing Of Snails and Men (the opening-night film of Making Waves 2012), taking risks in exposing the dirty and sometimes tragic games of Romanian politics.
Saturday, December 5, 6:30PM, FSLC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Tudor Giurgiu, producer Oana Giurgiu and actors Emilian Oprea and Mihai Constantin)
Sunday, December 6, 5:00PM, JBFC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Tudor Giurgiu and actor Mihai Constantin)
Monday, December 7, 4:00PM, FSLC
Bucharest Nonstop / București Nonstop
Dan Chişu, Romania, 2015, 86m
Four stories of ordinary yet colorful people caught in extraordinary situations are cleverly interwoven in this funny, bittersweet portrayal of urban life set during a single night in Romania’s chaotic capital city. No matter how different they seem, the taxi driver and the hooker, the grumpy elderly couple, the quarreling young lovers, and the loquacious pair of petty criminals all have one thing in common: the eponymous 24-hour store and its sarcastic yet good-hearted owner who connects the dots by being the sole witness of their trials and tribulations. This is the fifth and most accomplished feature film to date by maverick Dan Chişu, who gets the best from his eclectic ensemble cast. This year’s Making Waves lineup also includes Chişu’s own acting debut, in Mircea Daneliuc’s The Snails’ Senator. North American Premiere
Friday, December 4, 6:45PM, FSLC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Dan Chişu)
The World Is Mine / Lumea e a mea
Nicolae Constantin Tănase, Romania 2015, 103m
In this Romanian version of Mean Girls—only meaner, and probably made with just the catering budget of the 2004 American film—16-year-old Larisa struggles to stay afloat after falling for the wrong guy. The small-town world in which good looks and money give power over the less fortunate doesn’t favor the rebellious and stubborn teenager. Increasingly at odds with her school, her friends, and her parents, Larisa lashes out with devastating consequences. With assured skill and disarming authenticity, first-time feature director Nicolae Constantin Tănase offers a powerful look into the inner lives of teen girls, with a tornado-like Ana-Maria Guran leading a cast made up of mostly non-professional actors discovered primarily via Facebook. North American Premiere
Thursday, December 3, 3:45PM, FSLC
Toto and His Sisters / Toto și surorile lui
Alexander Nanau, Romania, 2014, 94m
Ten-year-old Totonel (or Toto) and his two teenage sisters struggle to live on their own and hope that the family will be reunited when their mother is released from prison. Shot over several years, with astonishing access to its subjects, this impressive HBO-produced documentary is reminiscent of early Ken Loach. Though disturbing, with brutal scenes involving drug addicts and a quietly shocking ending, this tough social commentary from Emmy Award winner Alexander Nanau (The World According to Ion B.) is a refreshingly optimistic film, with Toto managing to find his way and stay pure amid a cruel environment.
Sunday, December 6, 5:30PM, FSLC
Monday, December 7, 7:45PM, JBFC
Oana Giurgiu, Romania, 2014, 116m
In her debut documentary, Oana Giurgiu, a non-Jewish Romanian raised under the supreme Communist truth, sets out on a journey to uncover the reality behind the Romanian Jews aliyah (the return to the Holy Land). This incredibly rich story also touches on the adventure of the first settlers who abandoned their modern lives in Eastern Europe at end of the 19th century for a stark existence in a hostile Palestine. Unfolding something like a fairy tale, Aliyah DaDa is not without its dark revelations, including the infamous trade of Romanian Jews to Israel during Ceaușescu’s regime, and its captivating visual style—interviews and archival footage interlinked with Dadaist installations and brisk photo collages—pays tribute to two pioneers of that movement, the Romanian Jews Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco.
Thursday, December 3, 6:00PM, FSLC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Oana Giurgiu)
Trading Germans / Pașaport de Germania
Răzvan Georgescu, Romania/Germany, 2014, 92m
This HBO-produced documentary is a perfect companion piece to Oana Giurgiu’s Aliyah DaDa in that it similarly unearths, though in more traditional fashion, another of Ceaușescu’s schemes to shamelessly profit from the plight of his own people. Răzvan Georgescu’s film is the untold account of one of the largest and most scandalous human-trade mysteries in postwar Europe: how could 246,000 ethnic Germans from Romania have been secretly sold to Germany during the Cold War without anyone else noticing? It’s a mind-blowing story that chronicles the evolution of the deal as well as its complex consequences. Meticulously researched and crafted, Trading Germans is a highly emotional experience, especially when its uprooted heroes discuss identity and what “homeland” means to them. North American Premiere
Monday, December 7, 6:30PM, FSLC (Introduction by producer Ada Solomon)
New Romanian Shorts (124m)
A selection of the New York, Telluride, and Chicago film festivals, Andrei Crețulescu’s Cannes prizewinner Ramona—a perfectly crafted act of poetic justice at its darkest—is a highlight of this collection of eight internationally recognized short films. Additional dark works include Luiza Pârvu’s Start Anew World, a quiet story of sacrifice from a forgotten generation of Romanian immigrants in the U.S.; Roxana Stroe’s Black Friday, a deadpan tale of an occasional sniper in communist Romania; Marius Olteanu’s Tie, about a strange nighttime encounter between a cab driver and his female client; and Radu Potcoavă’s The Messenger, an absurd face-off between a gangster and a teen. On the lighter side, there’s Andreea Vălean’s hilarious Balkan music-infused There’s Nothing in this World and Matei Branea’s kinky sci-fi animation Omulan!. And, last but certainly not least, Cristi Puiu’s Christmas tale Das Spektrum Europas, a subversive history lesson taught by an old couple in bed.
Saturday, December 5, 1:30PM–6:30PM, FSLC – Amphitheater (Introduction by directors Andrei Crețulescu, Luiza Pârvu, Andreea Vălean, and producers Codruța Crețulescu and Toma Peiu) FREE ADMISSION!
Sunday, December 6, 2:00PM, JBFC
Sunday, December 6, 7:00PM, FSLC – Amphitheater, Free!
Roxana Stroe, Romania, 2015, 21m
In the Communist era, standing in line for food is a normal occurrence. After a long wait on an empty stomach, Mihail doesn’t receive his food ration. The next day he attempts to be the first in line…
Matei Branea, Romania, 2015, 15m
Omulan travels through space in search of God and lands on a mysterious planet marked by the divine triangle. He explores it, discovering triangle-shaped critters everywhere but not THE ONE he’s looking for. Until he does…
Start Anew World / O lume nouă
Luiza Pârvu, Romania/Hungary/USA, 2014, 23m
Pennsylvania, 1908. Romanian immigrant cobbler Petru greets his cousin’s wife Ana in their New World home with silent affection. Before he wins her heart, however, he must relate a piece of news that will change her forever.
Das Spektrum Europas
Cristi Puiu, Romania, 2013, 13m
A Christmastime conversation in bed between a husband and wife as she reads aloud from Hermann Keyserling’s 1928 book Das Spektrum Europas, in which the German philosopher reduced most of southeastern Europe to unflattering national stereotypes.
There’s Nothing in This World / Nu există-n lumea asta
Andreea Vălean, Romania, 2015, 10m
Two old friends reconnect after a long time. One is a sketchy bar manager, the other an art designer with a huge poker debt. Is their childhood bond strong enough for carrying out a promise made to a dead father?
Tie / Scor alb
Marius Olteanu, Romania, 2015, 28m
As a soccer match paralyzes Bucharest, an anxious businesswoman takes a cab, but once in front of her building, she asks the driver to keep her company until the next morning. At any price.
The Message / Mesagerul
Radu Potcoavă, Romania, 2015, 13m
On his way home, a teenager witnesses a triple murder in broad daylight. Scared to death, he tries to run away, but is caught by the killer. He has only one chance to make it out alive…
Andrei Crețulescu, Romania, 2015, 21m
One night. One girl. One car. No coincidence.
Celebrating 10 Years of Making Waves: A Festival Retrospective
The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu / Moartea domnului Lăzărescu
Cristi Puiu, Romania, 2005, 154 min
The lonely 63-year-old Mr. Lăzărescu (the late Ion Fiscuteanu, in his final and most memorable performance) feels sick and calls an ambulance. The paramedics take him to the hospital, but once there they decide to move him to another hospital, and then yet another…while his health continues to deteriorate. Ten years ago, this dark comedy about the human condition took American critics by storm, ending up on numerous top 10 lists. And the talented and gorgeous Luminița Gheorghiu, who plays the Good Samaritan nurse was named Best Supporting Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association: just a few reasons to revisit Cristi Puiu’s seminal—and arguably the greatest—title of the Romanian New Wave, which has recently been digitally remastered.
Friday, December 4, 7:15PM, JBFC
Sunday, December 6, 8:00PM, FSLC
California Dreamin’ (Endless) / California Dreamin’ (nesfîrșit)
Cristian Nemescu, Romania, 2007, 155m
A NATO gun shipment supervised by an American officer that’s scheduled to cross Romania via train during the Kosovo war of the late 1990s, is blocked by a stubborn rural station official who objects to the lack of accompanying documents. What follows is an epic farce of carnivalesque proportions, touching on cultural misunderstanding, corruption, vengeance, and the American dream. “Its themes are serious, but they are addressed with a playful exuberance,” wrote A.O. Scott in The New York Times back in 2007. Today, revisiting Nemescu’s posthumous debut feature (now on digitally remastered DCP) one thing’s for sure: the film’s seduction and electrifying rock ’n’ roll vitality—far removed from the stripped-down realism of most of New Romanian Cinema’s big hits—remain unaltered.
Saturday, December 5, 1:00PM, FSLC (Introduction by actor Andi Vasluianu)
Director in Focus: Mircea Daneliuc
The Cruise / Croaziera
Mircea Daneliuc, Romania, 1981, 118m
Young winners of various contests from across the country are awarded with a cruise on the Danube. This becomes an opportunity to expose the dynamics of ideology, as the youngsters are constantly subjected to educational pressures, which they in turn eschew through irony and cunning. Originally meant as a reward, the cruise ends up being a punishment, a sadly unacknowledged act of coercion. Surprisingly, given the harsh censorship at the time, The Cruise has the strongest and clearest anti-totalitarian message of all the Romanian productions made under Communism, featuring a Party activist who is an aggressive impostor, presented unmistakably as a villain. Subversive, hilarious, and a highly incisive X-ray of an entire generation, Cristi Puiu’s favorite film of Daneliuc’s is the most Altman-esque film ever made in Romania.
Friday, December 4, 9:15PM, FSLC (Introduction by director Mircea Daneliuc)
Microphone Test / Probă de microfon
Mircea Daneliuc, Romania, 1980, 106m
A reporting team is interviewing petty criminals—sometimes harshly—in the Bucharest railway station, with an eye to make examples of them. When the cameraman, the reporter’s boyfriend, takes a special interest in one of the subjects, the professional and personal collide. This irreverent social satire, made under communist rule by veteran filmmaker Mircea Daneliuc, effortlessly stands the test of time. Richard Peña, former program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, wrote in admiration of this rare masterpiece: “Microphone Test is about… the moment when a crack appears in the social façade that reveals another kind of reality hidden just out of sight.”
Thursday, December 3, 7:30PM, JBFC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Mircea Daneliuc)
Jacob / Iacob
Mircea Daneliuc, Romania, 1988, 115m
Jacob, a Transylvanian miner trying to eke out a living, is wrongly accused of stealing gold from the mine where he works. As punishment, he is transferred to a more distant site. At Christmas, in an attempt to make it home more quickly, Jacob secretly climbs into the mine’s cable car. But when the power shuts down for the holidays, he finds himself stuck, suspended 200 meters above the abyss. It’s in this extremely confined space that Jacob learns what it means to take risks and to fight to the last breath—and you will be breathless, too, watching this undisputedly brilliant film by a Romanian master, a major influence on New Romanian Cinema. A former NYFF selection.
Saturday, December 5, 5:00PM, JBFC
Intimate Bed / Patul conjugal
The Snails’ Senator / Senatorul melcilor
Mircea Daneliuc, Romania, 1995, 112m
Senator Vîrtosu (Dorel Vișan) spends the weekend at a guesthouse formerly owned by the Communist Party, where in true Communist tradition, he’s presented with gifts from its employees and petitions from the local peasants. But his relaxing weekend is disrupted by a crew of Swiss journalists filming in the area. Vîrtosu cooperates with them, trying to make sure the reporters present his country favorably, while of course hiding certain details from them. This Cannes competition entry reframes The Cruise against the backdrop of a society in transition and adds apocalyptic and Dostoevskian accents to the depravity and penance of the main villain—the Communist Party activist turned member of a democratic parliament. Daneliuc’s film is a fierce political satire that thankfully doesn’t concern itself with delivering a positive image of Romania.
Saturday, December 5, 4:00PM, FSLC (Introduction by and Q&A with director Mircea Daneliuc and actress Cecilia Bârbora)
Special Program: Creative Freedom Through Cinema
Guest Countries: Georgia and the Republic of Moldova
List of panelists and more information to follow.
Sunday, December 6, 5:30PM, FSLC – Ampthitheater
Corn Island / Simindis Kundzuli
George Ovashvili, Georgia/Germany/France, 2014, 101m
Abkhaz, Georgian, and Russian with English subtitles
An old peasant and his innocent granddaughter sow corn on an island in the middle of the Inguri River dividing Georgia from Abkhazia. Made out of washed-up dirt, rocks, and debris, the island might exist for year—or it might soon be swept away. The farmers can’t help but take the risk to escape poverty. But then there’s the other risk, of being caught in the ongoing border conflict between the two territories. Told through captivating imagery and almost devoid of dialogue, the second feature from renowned Georgian filmmaker George Ovashvili is a majestic drama about the fragile bond between man and nature. It won the top prize in Karlovy Vary last year and was the Georgian Oscar entry for the Best Foreign Language Film, remarkably making the January shortlist.
Sunday, December 6, 3:15PM, FSLC
The Unsaved / La limita de jos a cerului
Igor Cobileanski, Romania/Republic of Moldova, 2013, 80m
Nineteen-year-old Viorel lives with his mother in a remote Moldovan town. Aside from earning a little cash through illegal activities and building a hang glider with his pal Goos, he has no great ambitions. But, eventually, Viorel begins taking control of his life. In Igor Cobileanski’s authentic, socially conscious feature debut, which captures the dead ends of a youth generation growing up in a place lacking prospects for a better life. Working from a script first drafted by Corneliu Porumboiu (hence the film’s recognizable mood and humor), Cobileanski joined forces with a more famous Moldovan to shape the look of his bleak story: the brilliant director of photography Oleg Mutu, who has worked with Cristian Mungiu and Sergei Loznitsa.
Sunday, December 6, 1:30PM, FSLC