Romania’s Oscar selection, Cristi Puiu’s ‘Sieranevada’ – screened at AGERPRES and Mandragora event

Romania’s Oscar selection, Cristi Puiu’s ‘Sieranevada’ was screened on Friday evening in presence of the director and the film team at Grand Cinema & More – Baneasa Shopping City, in an event organized by the AGERPRES National News Agency and the Mandragora film production company.

The guests of the special screening included partners of the organisers, as well as personalities like musician Ovidiu Lipan Tandarica and director of the Bucharest National Theatre House Ion Caramitru.

At the start of the event, Cristi Puiu confessed that he feels “among friends”. “With AGERPRES (…) I feel that I am among friends, (…) and the fact that they chose to support our film is a compliment,” he said.

Addressing the audience before the screening, AGERPRES Director General Alexandru Giboi spoke about the news agency’s support for Romania’s Oscar pick.

“We, at AGERPRES, are very proud that we are able to support everything that means a quality product of Romania. To us, being at the side of ‘Sieranevada’, a potential Oscar winner, is very important and, as we endeavor to promote everything that is related to Romania’s evolution, we also came to organize this event,” said Alexandru Giboi.

Attending the event was a part of the film team: producer Anca Puiu, actresses Ioana Craciunescu, Ilona Brezoianu, Judith State, Ana Ciontea and Simona Ghita.

Stepping in the spotlight, the actors spoke about their work on the film and of the comfortable feeling of being a team, as they acted under Cristi Puiu’s direction. Ioana Craciunescu, Ilona Brezoianu and Judith State each expressed the idea of feeling on set like a “family”, like “at home”.

The screening was followed by a Q & A session moderated by Andrei Giurgia, director of the Iasi-based Romanian Film Evenings Festival.

Director Cristi Puiu introduced the audience to the significance of the title “Sieranevada”, confessing that he is glad that the film, which has a deeply personal inspiration, was well received by the Romanian public. “For me, this was the grand prize, (…) the rest is a bonus,” Puiu said, adding that he feels lucky that “Sieranevada” was picked to represent Romania in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race.

“When a handful of people from Romania chose my film from a bunch of films produced this year (…) it’s as if they considered that I would deserve the Oscar,” said the film director.

He went on by saying that the campaign to promote “Sieranevada” in the US has started. “Promoting the film in the United States means a lot of money. We are trying to find the funds. The Government of Romania will support us through the Romanian Cultural Institute, the National Film Center supports us too,” said Puiu.


According to him, the Romanian films are well received in Europe and at the US film festivals, but the American Movie Academy which awards the Oscars represents “another world, another planet.”

“It’s very hard to land in this movie world and secure a front seat right from the beginning. (…) People must get used to the idea that (…) Romania is doing well in cinema. (…) It takes time (…) I think we need a story as epic as the Apollo 11 [lunar mission] for a Romanian to make it to the Oscar and be able to say ‘That’s one small step for the Romanian, one big step for Romania’. (…) It’s a long way ahead,” said Puiu.

“Sieranevada” opened in May the official competition at the 69th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

The action of the film takes place three days after the attack on the newsroom of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo and forty days after the death of the father of Lary, a surgeon of 40-something. Lary plans to spend the Saturday with his young wife and the family, at the gathering for the commemoration dinner for his recently passed away dad, but things don’t go on according to plan because the tempers heat up over various disagreements among the characters confined in a small flat, restrained in a small space and inside their own minds.

In an interview published on the website Cristi Puiu was confessing that he chose this subject because he ”is particularly interested in death under all its aspects. That moment when the deceased is no longer in this world and only the memory of him shimmers through the cracks is very important and it’s a chapter in this story of death. You came here, you were born on this planet, and at some point you leave and something remains behind. And somehow this is also part of your story. It’s perhaps the saddest part of our story, the story of man …”

“Sieranevada” was well received by international film critics, with ”La libre Belgique” noting for instance that “whereas in a well-known theater play Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for Godot, in Cristi Puiu’s film, all the characters – mother, aunt, children, nephews and neighbours” are waiting for something far more prosaic: the borscht served at the commemoration dinner ”The film does not lack an absurd vein, (…) but this makes it more amusing” because the director skillfully uses acid humor and the way the camera pans through the scene prevents it from becoming theatrical, concludes the article in ”La libre Belgique”.

A part of the AGEERPRES photographic library was also presented at the screening event, including photos with famed conductor Sergiu Celibidache, comedian Constantin Tanase, critic George Calinescu and folk singer Maria Tanase. Three short video clips for the presentation of AGERPRES products were also shown prior to the screening.

The Iasi Association of Journalism Students, Baneasa Shopping City and Grand Cinema & More were partners of the event organized by AGERPRES and Mandragora.

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