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FNE in Cannes: Surfing the Romanian New Wave with Corneliu Porumboiu

2009-05-25

Romanian cinema's New Wave may have surfaced much earlier but ever since Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days won the Palm d'Or in Cannes two years ago it has been on the map for most people.

This year two Romanian films are screening in Un Certain Regard, Mungiu's Tales From A Golden Age and Corneliu Porumboiu's Police Adjective.

Tales from A Golden Age produced by Bucharest based Mobra Films (http://www.mobrafilms.ro/) is a series of tales about life in communist Romania directed by a group of Romanian directors including Mungiu although we are not told who has directed which tale.

Porumboiu's film produced by his 42 KM Film outfit (http://www.42kmfilm.ro/) is about a policeman who refuses to arrest a young man who is trying to sell hashish to two students. The policeman believes that the arrest can ruin the young man's life and he doesn't want it on his conscience so he does not carry out the arrest.

Porumboiu was celebrating this weekend as his film scooped both the Certain Regard Jury Prize and the FIRPESCI prize. But FNE spoke to the 43 year old director earlier in the festival about the Romanian New Wave and how filmmaking is changing in Romania.

Speaking exclusively to FNE he said: " It's still tough to make a film in Romania but it has gotten a lot better. In the 1990's we had maybe one or two Romanian feature films a year. In fact in 2000 we didn't have any.

"The funding aspect has gotten better, that's for sure. We now have the Romanian National Film Centre which is patterned on the French model. Without this we couldn't make films at all.

"The worst thing is that your people around 25 years of age don't go to Romanian films. They don't go to films generally. Romania has to worst cinema attendance rates in Europe, Romanians go to the cinema on average only once in 3 or 4 years. We have only 80 screens so even a big US blockbuster gets only about 100 000 admissions. If my films gests 15 000 admissions that would be a lot in Romania so you cannot make your money back at the Romanian box office.

Porumboiu writes, directs and produces his own films. He also has his own sound studio in the centre of Bucharest. He says with TV unwilling to coproduce, the Romanian Film Centre giving about 50% and the average budget at around 700 000 Euros it is very difficult to raise the money to make a film.

Asked how he managed to make Police, Adjective he smiled and added that for him it wasn't a problem as he was rather rich.

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