Award-winning Romanian films trigger cultural exchange at LAU
Some of Romania’s latest and greatest films were screened at LAU’s first Romanian Film Week.
A country girl falls in love with an American soldier while a train carrying American weapons to Serbia is stopped in her village. A lonely old drunkard in serious condition is carried from one hospital to another, as no doctor is willing to treat him. People in a quiet small town try to convince themselves they were part of an anti-communist revolution.
These are all stories emerging in Romanian films, 20 years after the fall of communism, that were featured May 25–30 in LAU’s first Romanian Film Week at the Beirut campus.
The festival was organized by the university’s Arts and Communication Department along with the Embassy of Romania in Lebanon.
Some of the best of Romania’s latest films were featured in the festival, which opened with California Dreaming (Endless) — a film that was awarded the “Un Certain Regard” distinction at the prestigious Cannes Festival in 2007.
The film tells the story of a group of American soldiers heading to Serbia during the NATO bombardments who were stopped in a Romanian railway station by a zealous employee.
The festival continued with another acclaimed film by highly regarded Romanian director Cristi Puiu. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu won 20 international awards, among which the “Un Certain Regard” in Cannes in 2005.
In this film, an old drunkard with no family left is rejected for treatment by several hospitals because the doctors are too busy or don’t feel like taking care of a patient. Finally the doctors accept him for an emergency operation to remove a blood clot in his brain, so that his incurable liver cancer can kill him, as one of the doctors in the film cynically comments.
The other three films shown in the festival were Crossing Dates of young Anca Damian, East of Bucharest by Corneliu Porumboiu, and Exchange by Nicolae Margineanu.
Dr. Raed Mohsen, chair of Arts and Communication Department, believes cultural exchange is a key LAU principle and that art is the best way to introduce another culture to a new audience. “One of the best ways to explore [culture] is through movies, especially when we are addressing youth,” he said. “That is why every year we screen almost 100 movies for the students.”