Mihai Chirilov, Corina Şuteu and Oana Radu at the opening night of Making Waves, the festival of New Romanian Cinema.

There was a moment not so long ago when many local supporters of Romanian cinema might have doubted the future of the annual Romanian Film Festival in New York City. Changes in the government back in Romania forced festival organizers Corina Ş teu, Oana Radu and Mihai Chirilov to make a break from the Romanian Cultural Institute, the santioned diplomatic and cultural organization in New York.

They quickly formed the independent Romanian Film Initiative and turned to Kickstarter to generate financial support from friends and followers. In no time they had laid the foundation for this year's festival.

“The present authorities have gone back to a discourse on culture that is very archaic,” Suteu told the New York Times in an article this week, “And they do not consider new wave cinema as being 'representative' of Romania.”

With an acclaimed wave of films from the country in recent years—lead by the terrific work of such filmmakers as Cristian Mungiu, Corneliu Porumboiu and Cristi Puiu—Romanian cinema has taken root in the United States, Film Society associate program director Scott Foundas explained last night. 

On stage to open Making Waves last night at the Walter Reade Theater, Foundas was joined by Şuteu, Radu and Chirilov and the Film Society's new head of year round programming Robert Koehler.

“One of the dominant qualities of Romanian cinema that has really allowed it to rise above many other national cinemas in Europe over he past eight to 10 years is a remarkable fusion of directors with strong signature points of view and an extraordinary generation of actors,” explained Koehler. “It has a vitality, a daring an audacity and a strenght that setts a standard for cinema anywhere in the world.”

A new group of filmmakers is following in the footsteps of the recent Romanian masters and many of them are being showcased at Making Waves through December 5 here at the Film Society.

“The combination of the directing, the cinematic intelligence, and the acting strength is a dominant quality,” reiterated Koehler, “and I urge you to pay attention to that in the coming week.”

Corina Şuteu, Oana Radu and Mihai Chirilov chatted with FilmLinc for a podcast interview on the opening night of this year's festival: