Cinefamily Screens Lucien Pintilie's Reenactment

Anyone who keeps abreast of trends in world cinema likely already knows that, thanks to a series of major-prize wins at the Cannes, Romanian filmmakers have recently gone from relative obscurity to belles of the international film-festival ball. But before the lauded trifecta of Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Corneliu Porumboiu’s 12:08 East of Bucharest and Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’Or–winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, there was an earlier gilded age of Romanian film production that resulted in nearly as many Cannes triumphs: animator Ion Popescu-Gopo’s A Short Story, which won the Palme d’Or for short films in 1957; Liviu Ciulei’s The Forest of the Hanged, which copped the official competition’s best director prize in 1965; and Mircea Muresan’s The Uprising, which was awarded a special jury prize for best first feature in 1966. Had it been more widely seen at the time, Lucien Pintilie’s 1968 Reenactment, which closes Cinefamily’s month-long retrospective of Romanian cinema past and present, might also have been similarly lauded. Instead, it was pulled from theaters after two weeks and banned for the following 22 years, during which Pintilie himself took up exile in France. Allegedly, Pintilie’s film riled the authorities because of the jaundiced eye it cast upon Romanian society in the early years of Ceaucescu’s reign, though it’s easy to imagine the Communist Party apparatchiks being even more taken aback by Reenactment’s skeptical attitude toward documentary reality and objective truth. The premise is simple enough: Following a drunken bar brawl, the two young men who started the fight are recruited to restage their actions for a state-sponsored “instructional film for young people” about the dangers of drinking. A portly district attorney in a white summer suit arrives to supervise the proceedings. Complications ranging from the absurd to the tragic ensue, while the line between fact and fiction becomes as muddy as the rain-soaked ground upon which the main characters tussle. Fresh from his equally impressive 1965 debut feature, Sunday at Six, Pintilie, then 35, was clearly awash in the convention-shattering fervor that was erupting in filmmaking all across Europe. Seen today, his films serve as a bridge from one Romanian New Wave to another. (Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre; Sat., June 28, 8 p.m.

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