Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Have you seen the Romania film?

The question that has been echoed for the past few years at Cannes may very well have a refrain here in the Twin Cities, albeit a quieter refrain. A recent article in the New York Times Magazine ("New Wave on the Black Sea", A.O. Scott) brings to light two films that made brief appearances in the past, but also three films coming up at the Walker starting next week. The New Romanian Cinema section of the Expanding the Frame program will include Cristian Mungiu's critically acclaimed 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (2007) and two films from Cristian Nemescu, Marilena From P7 (2006) and California Dreamin' (2007).

First let's do a little local Romanian recap. The film that started this whole critic-coined and director-refuted New Wave was Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Mr Lazarescu premiered at Cannes in 2005 and landed in the Twin Cities June 2006 at the Parkway Theater when the theater was in a state that was more dismal than the plot of the film (a two-and-a-half hour film about, well, the death of Mr. Lazarescu.) Locally it was well received but sadly under-attended. A mere ten months later, another high profile Romanian film made an appearance at the 2007 Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival: Corneliu Porumboiu's hilarious 12:08 East of Bucharest. (Corneliu Porumboiu's 2005 short entitled Liviu's Dream played at the 2006 MSPIFF.)

The big story of the three films coming up at the Walker is Mungiu's 4 Months, 2 Weeks, 2 Days which won the coveted Palme d'Or at Cannes and basically showed up on everybody who's anybody's list for 2007. The more quiet story, yet perhaps the more important story, is that of director Cristian Nemescu who died at the young age of 27 in 2006. Nemescu was certainly heralded as a rising star, but seems destine to become the forgotten luminary. The Walker will provide the rare opportunity to see two of his films: Marilena From P7 and California Dreamin'.

(The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and 12:08 East of Bucharest are both available on DVD.)

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