One of Europe's finest filmmakers, Lucian Pintilie creates corrosive cinema that is at once original, ferocious, and hopeful. Born to Romanian parents in a German-speaking village in Southern Bessarabia, Pintilie describes the region as a halcyon polyglot and multicultural community, "today part of Ukraine...(then) inhabited by a genuine ethnic mosaic: Romanians, Ruthenians, Gagauzes, Turks, Tatars, Jews, and, of course Ukrainians and Russians." Memories of this tolerant and cosmopolitan community continue to inform the filmmaker's work, which is marked by a sense of "what could be."
Pintilie became a celebrated theater director in Bucharest before making his debut film, Sunday at Six, in 1965. That film so upset Romanian censors that he could not make his second film, Reenactment, until four years later. Although it was initially banned, Reenactment had its international premiere at Cannes in 1970, and the filmmaker was lauded in absentia; today it is considered a seminal work of the New Romanian Cinema. Forced into exile, Pintilie had to shoot his third film, Ward No. 6 (1973), in Yugoslavia. He returned home to make his fourth, Carnival Scenes (1979), but when that film was also completely forbidden he left Romania for France.
Pintilie returned to filmmaking after the collapse of Communism and the advent of democracy in Romania, creating a series of no-holds-barred dramas and dark comedies about life and its absurdities, beginning with The Oak (1992) and continuing with such acclaimed films as Afternoon of a Torturer (2001) and Niki and Flo (2003). Virtually unknown in the U.S., this latter film receives a weeklong run as part of this series. The retrospective concludes with the artist’s most recent work, the short film Tertium non datur (2005).
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, in association with the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. Presented in collaboration with the Romanian Film Festival in New York, and with the cooperation of the Romanian National Film Center.
Image: Last Stop Paradise. 1998. Romania. Directed by Lucian Pintilie