When we last met Corneliu Porumboiu for an interview during the Cannes film festival in 2011, he already spoke of a “good period” for Romanian filmmakers. Since then, Romanian cinema’s reputation has been further strengthened, with films such as Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012) and Călin Peter Netzer’s Child’s Pose (2013) adding to the long list of instant Romanian classics. Porumboiu himself authored another three feature films in the meantime, giving film festivals – such as this year’s Syros International Film Festival – the opportunity to dedicate exclusive retrospectives to the director’s work when Porumboiu is only turning 40 this year. Poised between the bleak surface of the mundane and its inner depths, Porumboiu is, like many of his compatriots, a master of observational cinema. Interested in bureaucracy and the everyday but too smart to fall for the arthouse dictate of directionless observation, his films exhume unlikely humor and suspense whose desirability is only matched by the subtlety with which he caters questions of legitimacy, language, and memory. We take Syros’ retrospective of Porumboiu’s work as an occasion to take a break from our Caucasian focus, bringing you reviews of some of his most important films as well as another exclusive interview with the director.
Anastasia Eleftheriou and Moritz Pfeifer saw Porumboiu’s The Treasure, his latest feature, deliberating what is new about it and what isn’t. Geli Mademli reviewed two early shorts of Porumboiu and spoke to the director about his attitude towards locations and Bucharest. Finally, Moritz Pfeifer revisited his debut feature 12:08 East of Bucharest with a linguistic reading of that work.
Meanwhile, Konstanty Kuzma saw Nicolae Constantin Tanase’s The World is Mine, taking on a subjective approach to the debut which was awarded in both Cluj (Transilvania IFF) and Karlovy Vary. Colette de Castro launches her coverage of the Karlovy Vary IFF with a review of Slavek Horak’s Home Care, another debut feature.
Konstanty Kuzma & Moritz Pfeifer