Romanian film event casts eye to future


BUCHAREST -- The future of Romanian cinema, riding high on a wave of recent international successes, dominated talk at an inaugural round-table event titled Romanian Film Today.

Held Feb. 29-March 4 in Bucharest, the confab saw panelists discuss how to avoid taking Romanian filmmaking up a blind alley.

"What worries me is that all films are looking back ... they're all set in the past," said panelist Ronald Bergan a critic, film historian and contributor to U.K. newspaper the Guardian. "I think it is time for Romanian cinema to confront its present. The whole point about all New Waves in cinema history is that they were contemporary."

Mihai Fulger, Romanian film critic for the local weekly Observator Cultural, disagreed. "There is a great danger to judge not the value of the film, but the international recognition," Fulger said. "One of the best films made after 1989 -- the contemporary family short drama 'Alexandra' by Radu Jude -- did not make it to Sundance, Cannes or Berlin because it does not present the social realities that festival selectors want to see."

A glimpse of the future of Romanian cinema was seen at a special presentation of the country's latest short features -- "The Boxing Lesson" by Alexandru Mavrodineanu, "Alexandra" by Radu Jude and "Late" by Paul Negoescu -- all of which deal with contemporary issues.

"No system or film school can claim to be the author of a sudden boom in Romanian cinema," said writer-producer Lucian Georgescu, whose credits include "Keep an Eye on Happiness" and "The Phantom Movie."

Said Georgescu: "The same can be said about the future of Romanian cinema, which I see as a mix of past and present. We cannot speak about a real industry or national school, we are more or less lonely wolves."

During the inaugural "Romanian Film Today" organizers also dished out the country's second annual national film awards. As expected, Cristian Mungiu's Palme d'Or winner, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," swept the Gopo Awards, taking home nine statues including best picture, director and actress for Anamaria Marinca.

Meanwhile, the best European film award went to "13 (Tzameti)" by Gela Babluani while the special award for supporting Romanian cinema went to Festival de Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux, who attended the ceremony.