Making a film is always an act of bravery. But the Romanian master Mircea Daneliuc, whose subversive work inspired and influenced the directors of the Romanian New Wave, took risks much graver than merely artistic. In the films he made during the brutal regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, Daneliuc criticized the state, writing and shooting situations based in reality but refracted through a lens of dark humor and ferocious satire. And although Communism ended with the violent overthrow of the government on December 22, 1989, Daneliuc’s advanced sense of the absurd continued to inform his work as Romania’s elites held onto their power and everyone else scrambled for something to sell although no one was buying.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center is honoring Daneliuc and showing four of his 17 features as part of the 10th edition of “Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema.” The program also includes new features (from some of the country’s most lauded directors–Corneliu Porumboiu, Radu Jude and Radu Muntean), documentaries, classic films, shorts and panels.
Director Cristi Puiu, whose great film, “The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu” (2005) will be shown in the retrospective section, cites “The Cruise” (1981) as his favorite of Daneliuc’s films. Described as “the most Altman-esque film every made in Romania,” it has the “strongest and clearest anti-totalitarian message” of all of the films made under Ceausescu.
“The Snails’ Senator” (1995), a fierce satire which features Daneliuc’s wife, the actress Cecilia Bârbora, shows how job descriptions have changed–from party official to elected member of parliament–but corruption stays constant.
“Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema” will run through Monday, December 7 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. Mircea Daneliuc will introduce “The Cruise” on Friday, December 4 at 9:15 pm and with Cecilia Bârbora, “The Snails’ Senator”on Saturday, December 5 at 4:00 pm, followed by a Q&A. Selections from the series are also being presented at the Jacob Burns Film Center through Tuesday, December 8.