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Cannes 2016: “Cristi Puiu, the author of the greatest Romanian film from the years 2000”

  In the number of the Cahiers du cinéma magazine dedicated to this year`s edition of the Cannes International Film Festival, among other things, I got to read some lines that would flatteringly prepare my soul of a Romanian critic, before plunging into the fight-endurance exercise that a great festival implies, including its effervescence, like the one from the Croisette. The unprecedented high security measures shadowed the usual glitter a bit, but life is still at high voltage here and now. So, I thank the critic Jean-Philippe Tessé for the paragraph which recaps briefly and to the point the Cristi Puiu`s journey and importance for the history of our cinema with the Cannes festival. He says: : « Sieranevada is his first feature film in the official competition, but the story of his relationship with Cannes is a special one. When it selected The death of Mr.Lăzărescu in the Un Certain Regard section (where it received the Un Certain Regard Prize), the festival was opening up to the most important Romanian film of those years. But, on the same occasion, it missed out a possible Palme d`Or that two years later would be received by Cristian Mungiu`s  4,3,2, establishing thus the young Romanian cinema. Puiu will return in 2010, again at Un Certain Regard with Aurora (three hours of introspection that disappointed us). As a sign of the destiny, Puiu and Mungiu are now together in the official competition, (the latter is here for the third time), confirming (if we add Bogdan Mirică`s feature debut, Dogs, also in the Un Certain Regard section) the omnipresence of the Romanian filmmakers, true « bêtes à concours de Cannes ». I find the name of Mungiu`s film, Bacalaureat, quite natural ».
     With such an introduction, I believe I`m reasonably realistic to expect that our films will be warmly received. Until now, only the screening of Sieranevada took place, which was not scheduled much to its advantage, on the first evening, at the same time Woody Allen`s film was opening the 69th edition of the festival, with the nostalgic Café Society, a standing love declaration to New York, whose faithful son he states of being, though he had cheated it every now and then with Paris, Rome or Barcelona. The critics and the journalists didn`t leave a seat empty in the second big hall of the festival, Debussy; but the editors or those who are part of the teams from the magazines that rank the films were not so many. So, at the time I write this article (Thursday, May 12th, 10 o`clock p.m.) there is no written echo, besides the ones heard from some personal acquaintances, at the end of the screening.
     It`s great!, I heard a few times. Honestly, I didn`t expect anything else but this remark. I think it`s hard not to vibrate in front of a film that reveals to us a filmmaker, in his top shape, as they say in sport. It is the creation of an artist that comes from Cioran`s and Ionesco`s country; you can feel their echoes weaving into the film texture, where the existential bitterness meets the mundane absurdity, in order to dictate a bitter-ironical performance of the life that slips through our fingers, while we are swallowed up by the mediocrity of the nonsensical gestures, by the disability to communicate in other ways than the domestic or pretense profound ones. It is also a film of the formal virtuosity, in a perfect superposing over the layer of ideas. The members of the family invited to join the memorial service which is about to start, but which never does, bustle in an endless to and fro, from one door to the other of the small apartment from the Ceauşescu-style block of flats. We are the witnesses of a true Brownian movement of some beings, parents, sons, daughters, aunts, friends that bump into each other, as if trying to escape the tightness of a prison-space, searching behind every door an escape or a hiding place.  It reminded me of an old animation film, Tango, made by a Polish great director, Zbigniew Rybczynski (Oscar 1980), where the camera seemed to chase the heroes.
     At the press conference, which competed with the screening of Jodie Foster`s film, Money Monster (starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney), in a good mood for talking, Cristi Puiu explained the mystery of the paradoxical title Sieranevada, which has no connection to anything. He simply liked the way it sounded. Then, he is annoyed by the translation in different languages of a title that he chose for his film. At least this time, nobody can do anything about it. And there is something else. The teasing joy of hearing the question “But why isn`t it written with double r and why is it in one word?” It is the luxury of a small cynicism. Without it, there would be no Cristi Puiu trademark.
     P.S. Late, on Thursday night, I found a first echo in the Libération newspaper, in the on line edition, the review signed by Elisabeth Franck-Dumas, named “A Celebration of the sons and daughters” (Une fête des enfants). The author has a panoramic view over the entire surface of the film, exemplarily understanding some realities of the human kind from the screen, bringing out that “impressive narrative device”… “The impressive, the agitated kaleidoscope of a choking enclosed space, where a family from Bucharest gather in order to say goodbye to the patriarch of the clan. It`s only that every inch of intimacy (or almost) leaves room to the outside world.” If there is one reproach to make, in her opinion, that is Cristi Puiu`s “sliding into the manic-depressive mood that was all over in Aurora, his former feature.”

Tags: bacalaureat film, bogdan mirica, cannes 2016, corespondenta cannes 2016, cristi puiu, cristian mungiu, sieranevada film