Friday, September 28, 2007

NYFF: Mungiu and 'Message'

From the 45th Annual New York Film Festival (Sept 28th through Oct 14th)

In the Q & A following the press screening of 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, the terrific Palme D'Or winner from Cannes, writer/director Cristian Mungiu was discussing why he makes commercials to pay the bills. (What !?! Art films don't pay...who knew?) He said:
I never wanted to make television because television is... uh... something else
I can't say that I knew exactly what he meant with that evasion but, curiously, I can say that I get it. But then I like to fill in blanks.

Mungiu wants us to do that anyway. Repeated attempts were made by the audience to pin the soft-spoken director down on the subtext, meaning, message and politics of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. They wanted clarification because the movie obviously has more meat to its bone than its threadbare abortion plot suggests. His repeated refrain regarding "messages" delighted me...
I don't believe in this
This aversion to didacticism is one of the reasons that his movie is so damn good. It's also why it will never win the Foreign Film Oscar (though I hope its critical rep will force it into the shortlist)

updated: a few words about the lead performance by Anamaria Marinca


Anonymous said...

I saw that the IFC is hosting Q&A sessions streamed live via blogtv . Is that where this interview took place?

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Q&A sessions with movie makers more often than not tend to be just embarrassing. In my experience they're usually about the people in the audience who want everybody to look at them rather than the director.

Also, I kinda hope 4 Months, 3 Weeks doesn't get smeared with an Oscar nomination.


anon --i assume so, yes but i haven't watched any of them since i was there.

goran --agreed (which is why i wrote that piece about Q & As last week)

but come on... it's no smear to get an Oscar nomination. Was Kaurismaki sullied for finally getting Oscar notice for The Man Without a Past? Will Todd Haynes be any less of a genius once Oscar finally recognizes him (they will someday)

Oscar nominations help your film be seen and surely all filmmakers want that? (if they don't they're letting their snobbery run rampant over business and even artistic sense --its' way easier to get funding for your next piece if people bought tickets to the previous)

A dark, unadorned completely anti-hollywood drama from Romania needs all the attention it can get .

Anonymous said...

"The Year My Parents Went on Vacation" from Brazil is a strong contender for a nod, and eventually a win. Pay attention on a actor named Paulo Autran. He is simply terrific!!!! The film is amazing!!!! I am from Brazil, and it is a pleasure to talk to you. Please, Nathaniel tell Sasha Stone about it, and give your opinion about the chances of the film. Thank you!

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I was exaggerating when I said 'smeared' - though I'm comofrtable in predicting that over the next few decades more people will see and appreciate this dark Romanian abortion drama than will Trash or Memoirs of a Chinese Geisha, irrespective of whether Ampass recognizes it.

Anonymous said...

I'm not all that comfortable predicting it, fwiw.

That said, I saw it yesterday and I echo Nathaniel's praise. Simply an amazing work. Too bad it won't be eligible for anything outside foreign film (IFC's distributing it), but I hope people see it if they get the chance.

Boyd said...

Just a small precision: the amazingly talented and very humble director is called Mungiu (with "iu", pronounced "dyou").

Anonymous said...

Very very excited about this - feel like it's time for another foreign arthouse crossover to make it big. Also just saw California Dreamin' (Endless) and it's whet my appetite for this Romanian New Wave.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your kind words about Mungiu's film. I am Romanian/Canadian, living in Montreal and I was so damn proud when “our guy” won the Palme d'Or.
Honestly, I do not care about Oscars in this case. The movie will still be great, with or without the Oscar. Btw, you should check other movies from the Romanian new wave : California Dreamin’ by Cristian Nemescu, The Death of Mister Lazarescu by Cristi Puiu or Occident by the same Cristian Mungiu. Somehow, I have the feeling that you already did that.

Greetings from Montreal.