Two long – awaited Romanian movies screened at the Berlin Film Festival this week, one of them in premiere, and both were met with a full house, and with international praises.
Romanian director Tudor Giurgiu´s movie De ce eu (Why me), pictures Romania in the year 2002: corrupt politicians, corrupt investigators and a young prosecutor who must decide between his career and the truth. A bleak picture of a society looking for a new beginning.
Giurgiu, who attended the second screening of the film on January 11 at the Berlinale, stressed on the movie’s relevance for our societies as it increases awareness of corruption. This would not only target Eastern Europe, but also include countries like Germany, with recent high-level corruption cases. „Corruption is endemic,“ the film director said.
Giurgiu and the team behind the movie, all of whom attended the Berlinale screening, are eager to have the confrontation with the local public“ in Romania once the final version of the film will be released in the country on February 27, 2015.
The young Romanian director decided to make this movie based on real events and facts which ended up in the suicide of the young lawyer Cristian Panait. The prosecutor was about the same age as Giurgiu. He would have been 42 now. To the film director, Panait and his story represented a generation that failed to change the system and make the world better by applying their values to life.
While working on it, Giurgiu had to step back at times in order to avoid getting too involved in the story, which allowed him to finalize the film, he confessed. But the last nine days in the life of the main character Cristian Panait still remain unclear to Giurgiu. However, he still has hope and said he will fight for reopening investigations on this case.
The other Romanian movie at the Berlinale, Aferim, is a serious contender to the Golden Bear award. Directed by Radu Jude, the film premiered in Berlin earlier this week. Both the audience and film reviewers praised it, including the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. In this black and white drama, Jude touches the topic of gypsy slavery. “It feels like a strong prize contender based on its striking look, timely subject, and surprisingly funny script,” wrote the Hollywood Reporter.
Due to premiere in Romania in March, Aferim “will be a tough sell for overseas distributors, but smart niche players may be swayed by the prospect of releasing Romania's answer to 12 Years a Slave,” according to the international publication.
The Berlinale Film Festival takes places between February 5 and 15 in Berlin. Almost 400 films participate in different competitions in the 11 festival days, including 20 world premieres of films in the main competition.
Correspondence from Berlin by Volker Moser, additional reporting by Corina Chirileasa