Oscars: Romania Selects 'The Whistlers' for International Feature Category

Courtesy of MK2 films
'The Whistlers'

Corneliu Porumboui's drama about a police inspector who plays both sides of the law was picked up for U.S. distribution rights by Magnolia Pictures at Cannes.

Romania has submitted Corneliu Porumboui's La Gomera (The Whistlers) for the international feature category at the 2020 Academy Awards.

Anything but a police procedural, the film — which screened in May in competition at Cannes, where it was picked up for U.S distribution rights by Magnolia Pictures — is the story of a plot by a police inspector, Cristi (Vlad Ivanov, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), to spring a corrupt businessman from jail on a Spanish island. But before he can embark with the beautiful Gilda (Catrinel Marion) on the high-stakes heist, the Bucharest native will need to not only navigate corruption, treachery and deception — but also learn the island's dialect, which includes hissing and spitting in its vocabulary.

"Some of the director's passionate followers may feel a bit bemused by this shift away from the long takes and scruffy production values of his earlier Romanian New Wave work," The Hollywood Reporter 's Leslie Felperin wrote in her review. "However, Porumboiu's recurring preoccupation with language, loyalty and the legacy of Nicolae Ceaușescu's repressive regime is still there, just approached from another angle."

Porumboui, one of Romania's leading directors, first won international recognition with 12:09 East of Bucharest before going on to helm Police, Adjective, his country's Oscar submission in 2009.

The Whistlers will screen next month at the Toronto International Film Festival and is set to scree at the Fantastic Fest in Austin and the New York Film Festival. Magnolia has slated the pic to bow Feb. 28, 2020, in the U.S.

Romania has been submitting films for Academy Award consideration since 1966, but has never been nominated. In 2012, Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills made the January shortlist.