Thursday, May 31, 2007

'Growing sympathy' for Romania secured Cannes prize: director

BUCHAREST (AFP) - "If I had presented the same film in 2002, the likelihood that I would have received the Palme d'or would have been almost nil," Mungiu told his first press conference since returning to Romania.

"But I capitalised on the growing sympathy for Romanian cinema," he said, thanking those who had made films before him.

The 39-year-old director cited Cristi Puiu, who received the "Un Certain Regard" award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 with his feature "The Death of Mr Lazarescu", and Corneliu Porumboiu, whose "12:08 East of Bucharest" won the Golden Camera, awarded to first-time filmmakers, last year.

Mungiu stressed that his movie, with its powerful story of an abortion banned under the Communist regime, was not meant to be a chronicle of the time.

"It is based on an actual experience and it has a moral sense that goes beyond the historical context and that, I hope, everyone will understand," he said.

Romanian cinema is seeing a heyday with several directors, aged between 30 and 40, making their mark on the international stage in recent years. Life under Communism was an important asset for them, Mungiu said.

"We exploited that experience -- the fact that we lived under Communism -- to dilute all that was unpleasant."

Mungiu said he will need time to come up with his next project but said he hoped it would "come out more quickly" than "4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days", which he completed five years after finishing his first feature film, "Occident".

"But it's the result that matters," he said, adding that he hoped the film's success would help provide more funding for Romanian cinema.

"4 Months, 3 weeks and 2 days" cost a little over 600,000 euros (806,000 dollars) to make.

"We have become used to cutting all 'invisible' expenses, by not hiring actors but using friends to reduce costs, and that is not normal, it cannot last forever," Mungiu said

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