Berlin: Golden Bear-Winning Director Calls Out False Glamour of In-Person Film Festivals

Radu Jude
ODD-ANDERSEN_AFP-via-Getty-Images-

Radu Jude

'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn's' Radu Jude spoke out after winning the first online-only Berlinale, "My belief in cinema doesn't have anything to do with this clowning around."

Hours after his Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn won the Golden Bear for best film at the first-ever virtual Berlin International Film Festival, Romanian director Radu Jude took aim at what he called the "bullshit of red carpets" and the false glamour of in-person film festivals. Jude said he was "quite happy" not to have had to attend a fancy awards gala in Berlin on Friday to receive his Golden Bear.

The six-person jury of the 71st Berlinale announced in a live stream press conference that Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn was this year's big winner.

It was a controversial choice. Jude's social satire, about a Romanian school teacher who becomes the subject of a slut-shaming campaign after a sex tape she made with her husband gets posted online, divided critics. The Hollywood Reporter was impressed. "Jude remains a boldly original voice in modern European cinema, with serious things to say and increasingly adventurous ways of saying them," our review raved. 

Jude emphasized that point — that he has serious things to say — at an online press conference held shortly after he was informed of his win. 

"The essence of cinema is to be a serious art, a serious discipline — I would like it to be treated seriously,” said Jude, who sharply criticized the "fancy dresses and costumes" on display at a typical awards ceremony.

"My belief in cinema doesn’t have anything to do with this kind of clowning around," he added.

The book industry, Jude said, doesn't feel the need to glam up its art in order to attract attention. 

"If you go to a book fair, there are no people in fancy dresses. It’s people who love books, authors who wrote the books, they meet their audience and that’s it," he noted. "You don't see all this bullshit of big red carpets, sponsored cars and all that. I understand there’s a price the festival has to pay in order to do it, but this year there was not and I’m quite happy for that."

Ada Solomon, producer of Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn seconded Jude's notion that film festivals should be a celebration of cinema, not fashion. 

"When we speak more about the dresses than the films, we have a problem," she said.

Jude shot his new film during the COVID-19 lockdown in Romania, with the entire cast and crew required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, also on camera. The director noted that filmmakers from smaller territories are accustomed to finding "unconventional solutions" because "we have always been in situations that are almost-crises. We always had to adapt...we always have to be very creative."

The director was full of praise for Berlin's online-only edition this year. While the Berlinale hopes to hold an in-person event in the German capital in June — along with those dreaded red carpets — Jude said he looked forward to future virtual festivals. 

"It’s very good that they did something; it’s not ideal, but we are not living in an ideal world," he said. "Somebody said to me, 'We took out that stupid red carpet, maybe we should keep it like that.' And I agree.

The Golden Bear win should help sales of Bad Luck Banging. Heretic Outreach, which is handling the film, confirmed multiple territory deals for the movie on Friday, including with Germany, Russia and Taiwan.

A U.S. deal could prove tricky as the movie contains several scenes of hard-core sex. Solomon responded to a question about the movie's eroticism, suggesting that depictions of sex should be seen in context, especially given the often lax attitudes towards on-screen violence.

"It’s happening more and more that violence is accepted [but] nudity is not," she said. "For me, violence affects me emotionally much more than nudity. I’m not saying we should censor this as well; we should consider [the sexual content], not through an algorithm. Things should be considered in their complexity — there is no complete black and complete white."

Berlin certainly seems to have no problem with explicit sex. Adina Pintilie's NSFW drama Touch Me Not, which featured ample nudity and on-screen erotica, took the Golden Bear in 2018. Coincidentally, Pintilie was on the jury this year, which was made up entirely of former Berlin festival winners.