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Cristian Mungiu Tribute

1.   4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days / Cristian Mungiu, Romania
2.  Beyond the Hills / Cristian Mungiu, Romania-France-Belgium
3.  Mariana / Cristian Mungiu, Romania
4.  Nothing by Chance / Cristian Mungiu, Romania
5.  Occident / Cristian Mungiu, Romania
6.  Tales from the Golden Age / Cristian Mungiu, Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Ioana Uricaru, Romania
7.  The Firemen’s Choir / Cristian Mungiu
8.  The Hand of Paulista / Cristian Mungiu, Romania
9.  Turkey Girl / Cristian Mungiu
10.  Zapping / Cristian Mungiu, Romania

Cristian Mungiu belongs to Romanian cinema’s new generation of directors, which emerged in the early 2000s. A director, screenwriter and producer; winner of the Golden Palm at Cannes in 2007 with his film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days – and this year’s winner of the award for Best Screenplay for his film Beyond the Hills (which also won the Best Actress award), again at Cannes – Mungiu has not only decisively influenced the image of Romanian cinema, but has also garnered international acclaim as one of the major auteurs of our time.
Mungiu’s films draw from the reservoir of real life, from the experiences of authentic, recognizable characters, and candidly narrate stories that either refer to Romania’s recent totalitarian past (like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Tales from the Golden Age [2009]), or to the present time, focusing on problems that stem from the country’s sociopolitical transition after the fall of communism in 1989 (Occident [2002], Beyond the Hills [2012] and the short films that preceded them (Mariana [1997], The Hand of Paulista [1998], Nothing by Chance [1999], The Firemen’s Choir [2000] and Zapping [2000]).
Mungiu considers his society with a neutral gaze and films it with honesty and clarity, focusing on his heroes and their individual struggle to survive. Since what concerns him is the way in which society affects his heroes’ lives, he places emphasis on their humanity, their mental state, and their tribulations, without judging their actions, conflicts or choices. Using realism as a vehicle (presenting life as it is experienced and observed, and showing the world with a direct and clear manner), Mungiu conveys the environment and the atmosphere of each era with ethnographic precision: he records every detail that contributes to fleshing out his characters and recreating social settings, in an effort to comprehend and to ponder the historical or contemporary social reality of his country. Realism is an aesthetic choice not limited merely to physical reality, but also expressed through the naturalness of the performances and the ordinariness of the dialogues. Adopting the directness of the documentary genre, Mungiu films on location, with natural lighting and without sets, with a camera that is static or handheld, using long takes and depth of field to a large degree. He follows his protagonists everywhere and soberly observes them, keeping equal distances from them and from events, in an effort to eradicate his directorial presence and to identify his gaze – his cinematographer, Oleg Mutu, contributes hugely to this – with that of the viewer, whom he makes a witness to their tribulations. In those films where he chooses a lighter, humorous tone to satirize his society, he succeeds in entertaining and involving the audience without discounting his own demands: the autonomy of man and the responsibility for the choice that burdens the actions of his characters are clearly communicated to the viewer.
Mungiu’s films record the human condition and look deep into the society they depict, with the viewer always on the receiving end: without manipulating him, they make him – through the narration of stories that are open to interpretation – a part of their discourse, urging him to form his own opinion. With the universality of his approach transcending the limits of the society to which he refers, Mungiu does not simply leave his mark on the art of cinema, but also succeeds in addressing and reaching an international audience; something very few filmmakers can claim today.

Dimitris Kerkinos
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