Tudor Cristian Jurgiu's The Japanese Dog
New work from Romania will once again be celebrated at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this December. Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema returns for its 9th edition spotlighting a cross section of Romanian narratives, documentaries, and shorts. The series, taking place at the Film Society December 4-8 will also feature panels and special programs. For the second consecutive year, select films will also screen at the Jacob Burns Film Center, from December 5-10.
Opening Making Waves is Tudor Cristian Jurgiu's The Japanese Dog, which is Romania's choice to represent the country for Best Foreign Language Oscar consideration. Starring Victor Rebengiuc (Forest of the Hanged, Niki and Flo), the film is about family reconciliation and has a touch of Ozu. Following a devastating flood, a reunion takes place between a villager and his estranged son. Jurgiu will attend opening night.
“The Japanese Dog is an very convincing debut of a promising director Tudor Crstian Jurgiu,” said Corina Seteu, Making Waves festival board president. “The film is well built, convincingly designed, and with a story that everyone can relate to in [today's] world. The lonely old father from a village chooses to mend the relationship with his son who lives and works overseas who is familiar with a totally different culture. He chose to give up his life in Romania and go live far, far away. It is so improbable, that it can only be true. The film answers a profound dilemma of modern societies in relation to a certain atypical sense of belonging. It is very original and also very simple. The selection committee was surely impressed by the story, the subject, and the acting and the way the film is put together like an 'open promise.'”
The New York premiere of the Bulgarian/Romanian co-production Viktoria by Maya Vitkova will close out Making Waves. A Sundance selection, the family drama centers on Boryana, who dreams of living in the West. She is determined not to have a child in communist Bulgaria, but nonetheless in 1979 gives birth to a daughter, Viktoria—who is declared the country's “Baby of the Decade” after being born without a belly button. She is pampered by the state until age 9, but Viktoria's decade of notoriety abruptly ends with the fall of communism.
Director Stere Gulea will be the subject of a focus at this year's festival. One of Romania's most revered directors, his career has spanned over four decades and 10 films, which include his literary adaptation Fox: Hunter, based on a book by Herta Müller, and his masterpiece The Journey, which will screen at the festival. His most recent film, I'm an Old Communist Hag, about a 60-year-old woman living in a small town who is paid a surprise visit from her daughter and her American fiancé. While she is happy to see her daughter and meet her future son-in-law, things are complicated by her nostalgia for the communist period. She is asked to participate in the production of a documentary chronicling festivities organized by the Communist regime, and the family reunion makes a turn as memory and history surface. I'm an Old Communist Hag actress Ana Ularu will attend, while Gulea will be at the screening of both of his films.
Maya Vitkova's Viktoria
Making Waves also continues its special program “Creative Freedom through Cinema,” about the relationship between art and politics in Eastern Europe, and the importance of art in addressing controversial topics and forging a dialogue around challenging issues. This year’s focus is the state of LGBTQ rights in Russia, this year's featured country in the festival, where recent moves by the Russian government targeting gays has drawn international attention. Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov's documentary Children 404 gives voice to 45 Russian teens who share their stories through anonymous interviews and video diaries in the wake of President Vladimir Putins 2013 law forbidding “promotion” of non-traditional sexual relationships. Sergei Taramajev and Liubov Lvova's Winter Journey, meanwhile, follows the unlikely attraction of two men. One is a talented opera student and the other is an aggressive street thug. Russian officials restricted the film's release in the wake of the country's new laws.
The two Russian films will be accompanied by a panel discussion featuring artists and intellectuals from Romania, Russia, and the U.S.
“The evolution of Romanian cinema in the last there years continues to be linked to the names of Mungiu, Porumboiu, Puiu but also, more recently, the upcoming Calin Netzer (Golden Bear winner in Berlin in 2014) or Radu Jude, Tudor Cristian Jurgiu or Mona Nicoara and Alexandre Nanau,” noted Seteu. “The continuation of new emerging creative voices combined with a variety of subject-areas to be explored—from Jurgiu’s focus on the traditional family faced with the ‘global village’ to Netzer’s portrayal of the crumbling ethics in a profoundly corrupt society—Romanian cinema continues to explore the complexities of human condition as seen by ‘authors.’ This is the key. Keeping the author’s subjective voice in focus.”
Other highlights this year include the North American Premiere of Where Are You Bucharest?, by Vlad Petri, who will appear in person. Actor Florin Piersic Jr. and producer Velvet Moraru will also join the festivities for their film Quod Erat Demonstrandum. Additional Making Waves guests include Daniel Sandu, director of the short film Horsepower, and Vladimir Tismăneanu, professor of politics at the University of Maryland and author of numerous works on the history of communism, who will introduce some of this year’s films.
For the third year, Making Waves will present the Alex Leo Șerban Fellowship, in partnership with Transilvania International Film Festival. This year’s fellow is film critic Andrei Rus, editor of Film Menu magazine, and faculty and instigator of a film club revival hosted by the National University of Theatre and Film in Bucharest.
“It is our privilege to present another season of Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema here at Lincoln Center,” said Florence Almozini, FSLC Senior Programmer. “With works from some of the most exciting directors on the world stage, including Corneliu Porumboiu, whose Police, Adjective and 12:08 East of Bucharest are hallmarks of the Romanian New Wave, our provocative and ever-expanding series will be certain to make waves.”
“The vibe of this year’s showcase of contemporary Romanian cinema is perhaps best captured by Faulkner’s famous words ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past,'” noted Making Waves artistic director Mihai Chirilov. “Twenty-five years have passed since the fall of communism, but for most of the films in this program—from Quod Erat Demonstrandum to I’m an Old Communist Hag to Viktoria to Roxanne—the past is still an unfinished business, and proof that Romania’s recent history has left an indelible mark on our collective consciousness. When not addressing history, Romanian films embrace the present and attempt to break free from a haunting past, begging the question: can it really be left behind? The ninth edition of Making Waves offers some possible answers.”
2014 Making Waves films, descriptions, and schedule follow:
The Japanese Dog / Câinele Japonez (Opening Night)
Romania, 2013, DCP, 90m
Tudor Cristian Jurgiu, Romania, 2013, 90m
Featuring the great actor Victor Rebengiuc (Forest of the Hanged, Niki and Flo), this understated first feature about family reconciliation has a touch of Ozu and is Romania’s entry in the upcoming foreign-language Oscar race. A New Directors/New Films 2014 selection.
Thursday, December 4, 7:00pm, WRT (Q&A with Tudor Cristian Jurgiu)
Friday, December 5, 4:00pm, WRT (Intro by Tudor Cristian Jurgiu)
Viktoria (Closing Night, New York Premiere)
Maya Vitkova, Bulgaria/Romania, 2014, DCP, 155m
A Romanian/Bulgarian co-production, and the first from the latter country to screen at Sundance, Viktoria is a truly innovative epic about a so-called “baby of the decade,” born with no belly button. Infused with strikingly surreal images, Viktoria offers a unique perspective on the communist chimera. In Bulgarian with English subtitles.
Monday, December 8, 7:00pm, WRT
Stere Gulea's I'm an Old Communist Hag
I’m an Old Communist Hag / Sunt o babă comunistă (New York Premiere)
Stere Gulea, Romania, 2013, DCP, 94m
A bittersweet drama about the generation gap that contrasts Romanian national identity before and after the ’89 Revolution. The film features yet another subtle performance by legendary Romanian actress Luminița Gheorghiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Child’s Pose).
Friday, December 5, 6:00pm, WRT (Q&A with Stere Gulea & actress Ana Ularu)
Sunday, December 7, 1:00pm, WRT (Q&A with Stere Gulea & actress Ana Ularu)
Quod Erat Demonstrandum
Andrei Gruzsniczki, Romania, 2013, DCP, 107m
In 1984, a brilliant mathematician, his best friend’s wife, and the secret police agent who’s tracking them both are drawn together in this tense story of paranoia and betrayal. The palette is black and white, but the issues explored are anything but. A New Directors/New Films 2014 selection.
Friday, December 5, 8:30pm, WRT (Q&A with actor Florin Piersic Jr. and producer Velvet Moraru)
Roxanne (New York Premiere)
Valentin Hotea, Romania/Hungary, 2013, DCP, 98m
A decent but immature guy in his late thirties finds out from his secret police file that he might have fathered a son, but this proves to be just the first blast from a complicated past…
Saturday, December 6, 5:15pm, WRT
Sunday, December 7, 5:30pm, WRT
The Second Game / Al doilea joc
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania, 2013, DCP, 97m
The acclaimed director of Police, Adjective watches a 25-year-old historic soccer match with his father, who was the referee, in this look at the ways in which we relate to the past and, to a certain extent, to our parents. An Art of the Real 2014 selection.
Sunday, December 7, 3:30pm, WRT
Where Are You Bucharest? / București, unde esti? (North American Premiere)
Vlad Petri, Romania, 2014, DCP, 80m
You don’t need to be familiar with contemporary Romanian politics to connect with this funny and furious documentary that chronicles the street protests that took over Bucharest 23 years after the Revolution.
Saturday, December 6, 7:30pm, WRT (Q&A with Vlad Petri)
Monday, December 8, 4:30 pm, WRT (Q&A with Vlad Petri)
Vlad Petri's Where Are You Bucharest?
New Romanian Shorts (FREE)
Inspired by the biggest hit of Angela Similea, one of Romania’s greatest pop singers, the dark and crazily inventive musical Dying from a Wound of Love leads this eclectic bunch of shorts that also includes a tribute to Tarantino’s snappy dialogue in Kowalski and the Fassbinder-eque The Walk. Complete list below. All shorts in Romanian with English subtitles and projected digitally.
Saturday, December 6, 7:00pm, AMP (Q&A with Horsepower director Daniel Sandu)
Sunday, December 7, 6:30pm, AMP (Q&A with Horsepower director Daniel Sandu)
• Horsepower / Cai putere (Daniel Sandu, 2014, 27m)
• Ela, Panda and Madam / Ela, Panda și Madam (Andrei Ştefan Răuţu, 2013, 27m)
• Our Father / Tatăl nostru (Sergiu Lupșe, 2013, 8m)
• The Walk / Plimbare (Mihaela Popescu, 2012,15m)
• Kowalski (Andrei Crețulescu, 2014, 18m)
• Dying from a Wound of Love / Să mori de dragoste rănită (Iulia Rugină, 2014, 22m)
• It Can Pass Through the Wall / Trece și prin perete (Radu Jude, 2014, 17m)
Director in Focus: Stere Gulea
The Journey / Moromeții
Stere Gulea, Romania, 1987, 35mm, 151m
This remarkable adaptation of Marin Preda’s novel covers the years preceding World War II in a village in the Danube Plain, with its visible and invisible tensions as its residents contend with the early consolidation of capitalism in the rural area. Featuring a monumental lead performance by Victor Rebengiuc.
Sunday, December 7, 7:45pm, WRT (Intro by Stere Gulea)
I’m an Old Communist Hag / Sunt o babă comunistă (See above)
Sergei Taramajev & Liubov Lvova's Winter Journey
Special Program: Creative Freedom Through Cinema
Children 404 / Deti 404
Pavel Loparev & Askold Kurov, Russia, 2014, 76m
Forty-five Russian teens share their stories through anonymous interviews and video diaries in the wake of Putin’s 2013 law forbidding “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations with minors.” The title refers to the common “error 404 – page not found” Web message. In Russian with English subtitles.
Saturday, December 6, 3:30pm, WRT
Winter Journey / Zimny put (New York Premiere)
Sergei Taramajev & Liubov Lvova, Russia, 2013, 95m
The tempestuous attraction between a talented opera student and an aggressive provincial bully is charted in this provocative film whose release was restricted by Russian officials. In Russian with English subtitles.
Saturday, December 6, 1:30pm, WRT
Panel Conversation (FREE)
The topic of LGBTQ rights and how the arts help in addressing them will be at the core of this conversation between artists and intellectuals from Romania, Russia, and the U.S.
Saturday, December 6, 5:00pm, AMP
Hedda Sterne Rediscovered (FREE)
A visual artist best remembered as the only female in the Abstract Expressionist group the Irascible 18 (and the wife of Saul Steinberg), Hedda Sterne created a body of work known for its stubborn independence from styles and trends. Born in Romania in 1910, she fled the country in 1941 to find refuge in the U.S., where her work later found its way to the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The art work she left behind at her studio in Bucharest, closely guarded for more than 50 years by her friend and fellow artist Medi Wechsler Dinu, have recently been rediscovered by Cosmin Năsui, director of PostModernism Museum in Bucharest. Năsui will share Sterne’s early works and Wechsler Dinu’s testimonies for the first time during this conversation, which seeks to recount a story of talent, courage, loyalty, and the shattered lives of a bygone world.
Sunday, December 7, 5:00pm, AMP