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BFI London Film Festival


 

Discover the world’s best new films: 2-13 October 2019


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We catch up in London with Cristian Mungiu, the director of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Cristian Mungiu returns to the Festival with Tales from the Golden Age, a comic creation from a collective of Romanian directors which takes a darkly ironic look at Romania under the Ceaucescu regime and the idiocies of daily life in a dictatorship.

 

What was the idea behind the making of this film?

People answer these questions very easily, but actually what happened was that I was travelling a lot in festivals with my first film, and I was seeing lots of people my age - most of them had emigrated in the early nineties - and I believe we got to that age when you like remembering things and talking about high school... And I got this feeling that I needed to make some films about my twenties. My twenties were in the '80s in Romania.

And your last feature, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was also set in this period...

I discovered that I can't really squeeze everything into just one film. So I decided to make a trilogy of films set in the '80s in Romania, which started with 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and continues with two other films and this was finished this year. What you're seeing here is a selection of episodes from these two films, seeing it as just one film, and because the film was episodic and because my idea was to get the most well known urban myths of the '80s in Romania on screen, I decided to make this a collective project and bring some other people on board.

How would you describe the film?

It's mostly a film for the audience. I was doing a lot with my previous film, talking a lot with people and they were saying, "It's pretty complicated this film of yours, it's very artistic...", but eventually for people who understand cinema as entertainment, you wouldn't get out after eight hours of working to watch such a film because it's difficult. I promised I would produce something which is going to be a comedy, and it's my point of showing that we can do something that's mainstream for us and still tells you something about the period. Of course, all films coming from the East are going to be different species because they're subtitled, but for us it's rather a film for the live audience.

Can you talk a little about Romania during this period?

First of all, it's a good place because it's where I was born and where I spent my early years. And I believe that every director should speak about what he knows, and speak about things that have an impression on him, because if I feel moved about something that happened to me, chances are that you are going to be moved if you watch the film. But apart from this, of course, was a very complicated political situation, especially in the '80s because we had Ceausescu in power. So the '70s in Romania were quite fine except there was a lot of censorship, but we were children and we didn't care about censorship. But later on, the economic situation worsened.

After 1982, there was a shortage of everything; a shortage of power, of gas and, finally, of food. So winter was not a very nice season, there was no heat, they were stopping power two hours a night. Of course, we were kids so our memories about this are not that bad because we were not forced to do our homework, but still... Finally it all ended up in 1989 when he was overthrown after the fall of the Berlin wall and he was the only ruler in Eastern Europe to be shot, so it was a violent ending, and the end of the Communist regime in Romania. But it's true to say that fifty years of communism really marked people and survived in peoples' minds.

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