28 September, 2009

Corneliu Porumboiu's Latest At NYFF

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The global film industry is a road map of national cinemas that are viewed in ascendancy or in decline, sometimes both. In the past few years, there has been a good amount of attention paid to the emerging auteurs from Romania. Corneliu Porumboiu has been of the "Romanian new wave" stars, with his debut feature 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST winning the Camera d'Or (for best first feature) at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and a slew of prominent film festival awards and premieres.

Porumboiu is back with his sophomore effort POLICE, ADJECTIVE, which has its premiere this evening at the New York Film Festival, after winning the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival in May.

The film is another morality tale from the residue of darkness and bleakness that is post-revolutionary Romanian society. The film centers on what may be movie history’s most absurdly protracted police sting operation, designed to catch a lone high school student in the act of selling drugs. Cristi, the cop assigned to the case, realizes the futility of the mission, though his attempts to convince his bureaucratic superiors are met with contempt, derision, and the reminder that it is not his place to question the letter of the law. The long, nearly wordless scenes of the film’s first half give way to a final act of in which cop and police chief (unforgettably played by Vlad Ivanov) engage in an exhilarating verbal tennis match about conscience, personal morality and the true meaning of language.

The film, which will be released by IFC Films in North America later this year, also won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in Cannes and a special award at the Transylvania Film Festival. All that is certain is that Romanian cinema continues to intrigue the international film community and that Porumboiu is fast emerging as one of its most enduring and maddening masters.

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