Following the Cannes triumph of Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, Romanian film-making is on a high. Theodore Schwinke reports
Despite the international festival success of such films as The Death Of Mr Lazarescu, 12:08 East Of Bucharest, California Dreamin' and 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, young Romanian directors caution against talk of a Romanian New Wave.
'We don't share the same vision,' says Cristian Mungiu, recipient of this year's Palme d'Or for 4 Months. 'We got international recognition at the same time. But despite a taste for realism, the films don't all look alike.'
Under communism, Romanian cinema was a propaganda tool, but contemporary film-makers are determined to make realist films. 'Now we try to be as honest as we can,' says Corneliu Porumboiu, winner of last year's Camera d'Or with 12:08 East Of Bucharest, which took a wry look at the collapse of the Ceausescu regime.
12:08 and 4 Months are examples of the strong films Romanian producers can make on low budgets. Such projects do not use sound stages or large crews, relying instead on their stories.
They have been helped by Romania's new cinema law, which boosted the size of the national film fund for local productions with contributions from the state public broadcaster Srtv and the national lottery. In late 2006, the Romanian National Film Centre (CNC) announced it would fund 22 features, including new films from Mungiu, Catalin Mitulescu, Tudor Giurgiu and Radu Muntean. The total amount of support is roughly $11.3m, the highest figure in the last 15 years.
However, budgets still remain small enough (Mungiu shot 4 Months for just $940,000) that relatively modest support from international sources such as Rotterdam's Hubert Bals Fund and, in some cases, members of the director's family, can make up a significant chunk of a film's budget.