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February 5, 2023

Cristian Mungiu, a strong candidate for a new Palme d’Or

The much-awaited projection for the press of Cristian Mungiu’s latest film ‘Beyond the Hills,’ on Friday evening, drew a large audience that overcrowded the cinema hall. Although the film ran for two hours and a half and the plot offers no breath-catching or recomforting moments, nobody left the hall. The film was eagerly-anticipated by everybody, following the success of ‘4 weeks, 3 months and 2 days’ that brought a Palme d’Or for Mungiu in 2007, now driven by a real demonstration of concentrated narration. The acting was impressive too, despite the actors’ lack of film experience. As the director confessed in recent interviews with the press, filming required any takes were to be shot, and everybody worked hard, in difficult conditions, in order to meet the pre-selection deadline.Like in the previous film, there are few characters, which gravitate around the relations between two young women and a man. Instead of a “medicine man” – dealing in clandestine abortions – and two student girls befriending each other, now we have two young women that lived in orphanage, and an authoritarian priest, surprised by the events that follow the encounter of the two girls at his small church surrounded by hills, in a universe confronted by a dramatic deterioration of the situation inside the church. The death of one of the girls takes the story to a tragic zone, and the consequences are remarkably suggested by an abrupt end, although it seemed nothing was to be said after Alina’s demise during a painful exorcism ritual.There is nothing rhetoric in the question asked by the movie, whose answer seems a dilemma in the beginning. Mungiu warns his public about the difficulty of tending to the spiritual restlessness of two human beings deprived of both parents and protection, only having each other.The press conference brought clarifications about some of the more controversial aspects of the story. Cristian Mungiu said that he had in mind neither political and ideological issues, nor strictly religious matters. His movie is about love and freedom, as matters of personal choice for each human being. In the conference with international journalists, Mungiu was joined by the actresses that played the main roles in the film – Cosmina Stratan (Voichita), Cristina Flutur (Alina), Dana Tapalaga (the Mother Superior) – and the Moldovan actor from Chisinau who played the Priest, Valeriu Andruta. Image Director Oleg Mutu, who also collaborated with Mungiu in the past, could not come, as he is shooting another film in Georgia. Because the scenario was based on a document-book, some questions concerned the fictive character of the story. The director convincingly explained the relation between the book and the act of turning its subject into a fictive and homogenous creation, whose artistic result was appreciated here, in Cannes.The Festival is just beginning, but the outstanding value of the new film by Cristian Mungiu is already obvious, which gives us hopes that the jury chaired by Nanni Moretti will not omit the Romanian film. Of course, we hope for a new Palme d’Or, in spite of the very strong competition made by “heavyweights” of international cinematography. Yesterday, another worthy rival joined the race – ‘Amour’ by Michael Haneke – to be followed by Alain Resnais and the team of his film ‘Vous n’avez encore rien vu,’ who will step on the red carpet this evening.

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