“There are no ‘waves’ just individuals,” claims one of the most prominent Romanian film critics, Alex Leo Serban, when asked about the existence of the New Romanian Wave. Despite the skepticism of film critics at home, the Romanian filmmakers receive kudos at many international festivals as those who represent a “new quality.”
Sometimes they are called the representatives of the new realism or neo-neorealists because of the striking similarity to the films of Rossellini, Visconti, Antonioni or even the Iranian directors. However, even Mungiu, Puiu and Nemescu very often deny that they belong to any collective movement of a new film style. It is totally understandable that filmmakers might resist this idea because they do not want to be deprived of their individualism.
Whatever the case is, I decided that this week we should turn to Romanian film directors, which present a new quality in world cinema.
If you know something about that country’s cinema, you probably have seen:
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won a great deal of awards all over the world. A slightly less known, but equally successful movie is 12:08 East of Bucharest, directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. The story takes place in a small town in Romania called Vaslui, in a local TV station’s studio. The TV program tries to solve the issue: did the city of Vaslui participate in the revolution on December 22, 1989?
12:08… with an ironic and comedian manner smartly reflects on the notion of interpreting one’s history. The revolution in December, 1989 is presented from the perspective of two characters who theoretically have witnessed or even took part in it. Porumboiu shows with an ironic distance how the masses wish to be engaged in big changes and historical events. One might even assume that his message is a critique of analyzing over and over again the same facts.
I view this film through the prism of a person who lives in a post-communist country. Romania,was one of the last countries in the Eastern block to hold on to their old regime. Nevertheless, film directors and writers show their communist past with an ironic distance, while in Poland the pre-democratic times are still, sadly, a matter of political game.