Rounding the Corner
Corneliu Porumboiu’s cinema is the turn around a corner. Suspended between two directions, two moments, his films delve into this sense of suspension: between Ceaușescu and liberal democracy, between digital video and film, between the anonymity of his national cinema and the popularity of the Romanian New Wave. Porumboiu’s films reveal what is hidden within the banal, everyday utterances and routines of his characters: the silent desire – silently growing like a tumor – for a truly new world. Perhaps more accurately, it’s cinema about being told you’ve turned a corner when you have yet to see a new street.
Born in 1975 in Vaslui, Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu is one of the greatest young voices in European film today. His short films attracted immediate praise at international film festivals and his debut feature from 2006, 12:08 East of Bucharest, won both the Transilvania Trophy and the Best Romanian Film Award at the Transilvania International Film Festival and the Caméra d’Or (Golden Camera) at the Cannes Film Festival. His following films Police, Adjective (2009 FIPRESCI Prize; Jury Prize winner of the Cannes “Un Certain Regard” section), When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism and The Second Game all continued to receive critical acclaim and help establish Porumboiu as a leading director on the European scene. Finally, his latest film The Treasure was selected to the “Un Certain Regard” section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Talent award.
Porumboiu’s films are deceptively simple: they begin with a central concept – revolution, conscience, dishonesty, power – and he pushes and twists this one idea through the mold of his minimalistic form, always ending up with original and unexpected works. In his cinema, the mundane conflicts and characters don’t stand in as metaphor for these larger conceits; they simply confound the distinction between personal and societal, magnifying individual conflicts and showing how individual struggles, submerged in the ordinary, bear the markings of universal problems. Bearing humanity, intelligence, and humor at the absurdity of a present that is just a watered-down version of the past, Porumboiu’s oeuvre has the capacity to raise questions about society, film and language through the depiction of the quotidian in a way few filmmakers have accomplished before.
The retrospective was made possible with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Embassy of Romania to the Hellenic Republic.