Film director Cristian Mungiu presented with French Legion of Honor

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Film director Cristian Mungiu was presented on Thursday with France’s highest distinction – the Legion of Honor in the rank of Knight, by French ambassador in Bucharest Michele Ramis.

During the award ceremony the French diplomat briefly surveyed the Romanian film director’s professional path and the landmarks along it – winner of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or in 2007 for his “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”, but also his creating the ‘Les Films de Cannes a Bucarest’ festival. The ambassador confessed that she got acquainted with the Romanian cinematography thanks to Mungiu’s work.

This moment also has a personal connotation, because through your films, and particularly through the powerful and unsettling ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’, I discovered the Romanian cinematography, Michele Ramis said.

She also spoke about Cristian Mungiu’s decision not to move to Hollywood to make films, but also about the aesthetics of his productions.

You enjoy the attention of the American film industry and receive offers from Hollywood, but you always turn them down, saying you want to keep making movies in your country and in Europe, Michele Ramis said. She also mentioned the social accents in Mungiu’s films. Your films provide fodder for thought about the social and political realities of Romania, to which you, like any great artist, confer a universal dimension. Your view is often ironic, and it even better highlights the absurdity of the situation you present and denounce, the ambassador said.

In his turn, Cristian Mungiu spoke about the chances he has had during his career and in life.

Yesterday I received a message from someone who admires me for sure – ‘Congratulations, the day of victory has arrived!’ (…) This sent me asking myself what glory really is? Does it have a nationality? Mungiu said in the beginning of his address. He also remarked that he had luck pursuing him throughout his life in general and his career in particular.

The Palme d’Or winner told the audience how he came, following a discussion with Cannes Film Festival general delegate Thierry Frémaux, to effectively see to ‘Les Films de Cannes of Bucarest’ – the event he organizes himself – but also how his movie “Occident” was initially only an entry in the catalog of the Rotterdam festival because he had no money to finish the production, but despite that it caught the attention of the Cannes selection committee and also made its debut on the Croisette. His being directing assistant to Bertrand Tavernier was a new stroke of luck – he had actually wanted to be assistant to Lucian Pintilie, but the selection period had run out. Asked if he would be interested in assisting the French director, he answered “Oui, biensur,” the only words he remembered of the French he had learned in school, Mungiu said jokingly.

The film director confessed having learned French – the language he delivered his remarks in – at the urge of the general delegate of the Cannes festival, who “threatened” him that he’ll have to deliver his speeches on the Cannes stage in French.

France has played a decisive, essential, colossal role in my life, and I feel I don’t deserve all the recognition you offer me today. Maybe I have done something for the cinema, something for Romania, but I have certainly not done yet much for France, Cristian Mungiu concluded