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Romania's filmmakers win kudos

Updated: 2013-11-26 08:38
By Liu Wei ( China Daily)

Romanian movies were once a favorite among Chinese filmgoers, drawing large audiences in the mid-1970s and the early 1980s.

Now the country's "New Wave" filmmakers, who have emerged in the past decade, are dazzling a new generation of Chinese cinephiles, winning prizes at Cannes and elsewhere with the help of government funding.

Romania's filmmakers win kudos
Three decades ago, many Chinese people were familiar with Romanian films and their settings. While many saw the films in cinemas, it was more common then for screenings to take place at workers' clubs or outdoor screenings.

In an era when televisions were still a luxury for most families and the Internet was yet to be invented, these films were sweet treats for film lovers.

Scriptwriter Shi Hang, 42, saw a Romanian film for the first time when he was just 7 years old, and he was immediately impressed. He was with his parents in a packed cinema to see Alarm on the Danube Delta, a film about children saving cultural relics from smugglers.

For Shi, the Romanian films were better than those of other socialist countries at the time, with a wider range of subject matter, good story lines and better character development.

"I find Romanian films more commercial, in other words, the stories are solid and characters engaging. The characters are complicated and their fate is often destined, which enhances their charm."

Wang Yao, 29, a doctoral candidate at Beijing Film Academy who focuses on Eastern European films, said Romanian filmmakers have improved greatly over the past decade, even winning recognition at international film festivals.

"What we call the Romanian 'New Wave' started from the early 21st century, starting with a bunch of short films traveling around the international film festivals, riding high with a group of new film auteurs and their low-budget, realistic, social-issue-driven features winning awards in main festivals," he said.

The Cannes Film Festival has been the most important platform for the Romania's New Wave filmmakers.

In 2005, Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr Lazarescu won the Un Certain Regard prize, followed by Corneliu Porumboiu's 12:08 East of Bucharest, which won the Golden Camera the next year.

The 60th Cannes festival in 2007 honored two more Romanian films. Cristian Mungiu's 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, which focuses on the issue of abortion, won the Palme d'Or prize, the top prize on offer. California Dreamin' by Cristian Nemescu won the Un Certain Regard prize the same year.

Romanian films continued their run of glory in top European film festivals at Berlin 2013, when Calin Peter Netzer's family drama Child's Pose won the Golden Bear.

"These artistic films were appreciated as a New Wave because they do not simply accord with the Hollywood system or the European art house, but have unique angles to reflect the nation's history and examine its contemporary life," Wang said.


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