Cannes is still riding the Romanian wave


Cannes deservedly takes credit for discovering the Romanian wave and is keeping up the tradition, packing this year's lineup with more of Bucharest's best.

Director Cristi Puiu, whose chilling, darkly comic "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" kicked off the Romanian cinema craze when it won the Un Certain Regard prize in 2005, returns to Cannes with "Aurora."

The second in a planned six films by Puiu set on the outskirts of Bucharest, "Aurora" follows a 42-year-old man who, recently divorced, has just quit his job. He wanders aimlessly, trying to understand the insecurity and anxiety that dominate his life.

Berlin's the Coproduction Office is handling world sales.

Joining "Aurora" in Un Certain Regard this year is "Tuesday, After Christmas" from director Radu Muntean, whose debut was the rare Romanian comedy "Summer Holiday," aka "Boogie" (2008), featuring "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" star Anamaria Marinca.

Muntean's new film, set during the Christmas holidays, centers on a husband who has to choose between staying with his wife and 8-year-old daughter or leaving them for his mistress.

"The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu," a three-hour documentary from director Andrei Ujica, has gleaned an Out of Competition slot. The exhaustive work traces the career of the notorious national tyrant up to his execution in 1989. Ujica combines footage from Romania's film and television archives with a fictional scripted monologue, which attempts to re-create Ceausescu's psychological state of mind.

A lighter, more mainstream touch can be found in the Marche du Film, where M-Appeal is premiering "Hello! How Are You?" from director Alexandru Maftei. The romantic drama revolves around a married couple whose sex life is non-existent. Separately, they start up passionate online affairs with strangers, unaware they have actually found each other.

While the rest of the Balkan region is slowly coming into its own, Romanian cinema, at least as far as Cannes is concerned, remains the gold standard.

-- Scott Roxborough