October 18 – November 1

STORIES FROM THE OUTSKIRTS OF BUCHAREST: THE DARK REALISM OF CRISTI PUIU

With an oeuvre comprising just five feature-length films, director Cristi Puiu (1967-) is one of the towering figures of the Romanian New Wave.

Alongside directors such as Corneliu Porumboiu and Cristian Mungiu, Puiu’s Cannes-feted work epitomises the movement’s combination of art film technique with sardonically observed social realism. This near complete season of his films offers a window into the harsh interpersonal dynamics of post-Ceausescu Romanian society, depicted with humour and sometimes-unflinching cruelty. Beginning his career in painting, Puiu turned to filmmaking after being exposed to the cinema of John Cassavetes and the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman. From the outset, his work is pervaded by this influence of Direct Cinema and documentary. His films gained festival exposure from the beginning, with Cigarettes and Coffee receiving the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the Berlin Film Festival. The extraordinary international success of Puiu’s breakout film The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu in 2005 was instrumental in branding Romania as the locus of like-minded auteurs examining universal verities within highly parochial geographical and political situations. This masterwork and his subsequent sparse output, planned as a series in the spirit of Eric Rohmer, reinforces his status as one of the most significant and serious of contemporary filmmakers.

This season of imported prints includes all of his key works and concludes with the extraordinary Sieranevada, a work of sustained style and dramatic tension that was widely regarded as one of the best films released in 2016.

October 18

7:00pm THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU
Cristi Puiu (2005) 153 mins M

Initially pegged as a practitioner of social realism in line with the work of other key contemporary Romanian filmmakers, Puiu’s second feature slyly undermines such simple descriptions. Using the pretext of a sparse narrative – a slowly dying man is shunted, untreated, from hospital to hospital – Puiu advances formal experiments in long-take staging and extreme time distension, slowly accreting a thoroughly caustic, bitingly funny dissection of the widespread social malaise that characterises everyday life in the post-Ceaușescu era. Winner of Un Certain Regard at Cannes.

CTEQ Annotation:
‘The Death of Mr. Lazarescu’ by Rahul Hamid.

Trailer:


9:45pm STUFF AND DOUGH
Cristi Puiu (2001) 90 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

Often lauded as starting the Romanian New Wave, Puiu’s debut feature sees a small-town slacker, Ovidiu (Alexandru Papadopol), tasked with transporting a satchel of “medical supplies” to the Romanian capital. Almost everything that can go wrong does; the film focusing on Ovidiu’s impatience as the world closes in around him. Calling to mind both the greasy, high-octane thrill of Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop and the downbeat affect of Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law, Puiu’s deadpan caper is ultimately representative of a Europe where the line between enterprise and crime is profoundly blurred.

CTEQ Annotation:
Off the Road Again: ‘Stuff and Dough’ by Kenta McGrath.

Trailer:

October 25

7:00PM AURORA
Cristi Puiu (2010) 181 mins
Unclassified 15+ (unless accompanied by an adult)

“Clocking in at an engrossing, immersive three hours, the movie is a mystery about the human soul” (Manohla Dargis) and a chillingly elliptical depiction of a day-and-a-half in the life of a middle-aged urban psychopath, played by the director with calm and measured threat. Puiu uses the full arsenal of European art cinema style to maximise ambiguity and unease. The bleakest streets of Bucharest act as an apt backdrop for the cold narrative of imminent violence.

Conceived as a grim and bracing counterpoint to F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, the film further develops Puiu’s profound and critical examination of human relationships in contemporary Romania. Dedicated to mentor and key influence Eric Rohmer, Puiu’s opus is “a masterly film that draws us into a world controlled by unseen forces” (Philip French).

CTEQ Annotation:
Opaque Atrocity: ‘Aurora’ by Adam Powell.

Trailer:

November 1

7:00PM SIERANEVADA
Cristi Puiu (2016) 173 mins
Unclassified 15 + (unless accompanied by an adult

An extended family gather in a cramped apartment to mark the traditional mourning ritual for their patriarch where unresolved conflicts – political, historical, religious and, most tellingly, personal – spill over. With more than a dozen fully-realised characters, the film’s choreography of bodies, elaborate, seemingly haphazard sequence shots, subplots, and emotional pitch is extraordinary. Characteristic of the Romanian New Wave that Puiu all but invented, precise timing and pacing are achieved with minimal editing within scenes – Puiu’s sense of rhythm combining with a staggeringly well-drilled cast to create a hyper-real narrative that’s as much dance as it is drama.

One of the greatest films made anywhere in the last five years, it stars the extraordinary Mimi Branescu.

CTEQ Annotation:
The Matroyshka Doll of Laughter and Uncertainty: Cristi Puiu’s ‘Sieranevada’ by José Sarmiento-Hinojosa.

Trailer:

Preceded by

Cigarettes and Coffee Cristi Puiu (2004) 15 mins. Unclassified 15 + (unless accompanied by an adult. Puiu’s award-winning short film also stars Branescu as a man meeting his recently retrenched father and finding the generation gap is much wider when it sits astride the downfall of a country’s politico-economic system.

CTEQ Annotation:
‘Cigarettes and Coffee’ by Alina Haliliuc.

February 6
OPENING NIGHT 2019

February 13 - February 27
FIGURATIVE LANDSCAPES AND SOCRATIC CONVERSATIONS: THE VISIONARY CINEMA OF NURI BILGE CEYLAN

March 6 - March 20
OLD, WEIRD ALBION: BRITISH SUPERNATURAL AND GOTHIC HORROR CINEMA OF THE 1950s-1970s

March 27 - April 10
“FILMS WITH A MESSAGE JUST MAKE ME LAUGH”: THE UNBLINKING GAZE OF CLAUDE CHABROL

April 17 - May 1
MORAL CRUCIBLES: THE FILMS OF ROBERT ALDRICH 

May 8 - May 22
TIME AND TIDE: YASUJIRO OZU

May 29 - June 12
DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME: THE WORLD OF MAX OPHULS

June 19 - July 3
LINES OF FLIGHT: THE EXISTENTIAL CINEMA OF LARISA SHEPITKO

July 10 - July 17
A WOMAN OF ACTION: THE KINETIC CINEMA OF KATHRYN BIGELOW

July 24
COMING TO AMERICA: ERNST LUBITSCH IN HOLLYWOOD

August 28 -September 4
ENTER LAUGHING: ELAINE MAY’S COMEDIC GENIUS

September 11 - September 25
PRAGUE: A LONGITUDINAL DOCU-FANTASIA

October 2 - October 16
THE WHISPER OF THE GENERATIONS: ERMANNO OLMI’S REALIST CINEMA

October 23 - November 6
ENDURING MODERNITY: THE TRANSCONTINENTAL CAREER OF LOUISE BROOKS

November 13 - November 20
SHIFTING SHELTER: LANDSCAPE AND BELONGING IN THE FILMS OF IVAN SEN

November 27
POETIC PORTRAITS AND MERCURIAL MEMOIRS: THE BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARIES OF LYNN-MAREE MILBURN

December 4 - December 18
TERENCE DAVIES: THE ART OF MEMORY