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February 9, 2023
ARTS & LEISURE

Celebrated director Liviu Ciulei, awarded TIFF excellence prize

Three of the filmmaker’s most famous movies will be shown at the festival.

Liviu Ciulei, a leading figure of Romanian cinema and theatre, will be honoured at this year’s edition of the Transylvania International Film Festival (TIFF), where he will be awarded the Excellence Prize and three of his films will be shown in the event’s 3X3 section, organisers said in a press release carried by Mediafax news agency.


Spanning over more than five decades, Ciulei’s spectacular career includes over 20 movies which he directed, wrote or starred in, along with numerous stage productions. Besides director, actor, script writer and stage designer, he also worked as artistic director with several theatres.


Born in Bucharest in 1923 as the son of a lawyer and a well known constructor, Ciulei studied architecture and theater at the Royal Conservatory of Music and Theatre. He made his theatre debut in 1946, as Puck in an Odeon Theatre production of William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Soon afterwards, he joined the theatre company of the Bucharest Municipal Theatre, later renamed Bulandra Theatre, where he directed his first stage production in 1957 – ‘Rainmaker’ by Richard Nash.


Between 1956 and 1957, his theatre directing work was also reinforced by a series of consistent essays on directing and stage designing, in the context of a national media debate around the modernisation of theatrical aesthetics.


In 1961, Ciulei gained an overall recognition for his version of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It.’ Ciulei was the artistic director of Teatrul Bulandra for more than 10 years. After that, he worked in several European countries, as well as in the United States, notably at The Arena Stage in Washington D.C. where he directed ‘Leonce and Lena’, Canada and Australia.


Between 1980 and 1985, Ciulei was the artistic director of Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Afterwards, from 1986, he taught at Columbia University and at New York University.


After the Romanian Revolution of 1989, back in Romania, Ciulei has directed a series of stage productions that have been both publicly and critically acclaimed. He was named Honorary Director of the theatre he has always loved the most, Bulandra, as a token of appreciation and respect for his entire career. Besides being the costume and set designer of the majority of his own productions, Ciulei, as an architect, contributed decisively to rebuilding the theatre’s auditorium, as well as to important architectural work of other theatre buildings. In 1996, the Romanian National Theatre Union UNITER awarded its annual prize to Ciulei, in recognition of his overall work.


TIFF audiences will have the chance to watch three of Ciulei’s most important films, including his 1957 film directing debut, “Eruptia” (“The Eruption”), “Valurile Dunarii” (1959, for which he won the Crystal Globe at the Karlovy Vary Festival a year later) and the celebrated “Padurea Spanzuratilor” (“Forest of the Hanged”), which earned him the best director prize in the Cannes Film Festival in 1965. Celebrated actors who starred in these movies, such as Irina Petrescu, Victor Rebengiuc and Mariana Mihut, will also be present at the screening.


This year’s edition of TIFF, scheduled to be held May 28-June 6 in Cluj Napoca, will also honour directors Wim Wenders and Anurag Kashyap.

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