Widely appreciated and recognized with awards on the national and international scene, these Romanian directors have brought prestige to Romanian cinema and are today cinematic references worldwide. Their work has impressed, touched and shocked, gaining the public’s attention and the critics’ praise. Authentic pieces of past and present realities, their films depict original stories and exhibit the directors’ mastery. We’ve prepared a list of some outstanding directors that you should follow, together with their best pieces.
The one who kick-started the ‘New Wave’ of Romanian cinema, Cristi Puiu has gained international recognition through his fascinating films depicting realities of the Romanians’ way of life. Among the most popular are Cigarettes and Coffee, Stuff and Dough, Aurora and Sieranevada. Nevertheless, there is one movie that exhibits Puiu’s unrivalled mastery as a director: The Death of Mister Lăzărescu, winner of the Cannes ‘Un Certain Regard’ award and classified in 2017 by the New York Times as one of the ‘Best films of the 21st century so far’.
Mainly known for his ‘Palme d’Or’-winning film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu is one of the main figures of the New Wave of Romanian cinema. His films impress through the stories they portray, possessing an authenticity and a realism that touch the viewer. In 2016, he won the ‘Best Director’ award at Cannes for his movie Baccalaureat, a powerful drama about principles and morals portrayed through a daughter-father relationship.
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A gifted man who has gotten himself noticed since high school with short films like Gone with the Wine or A Trip to the City, winner of the Second Prize at the 2004 Cinefondation section of the Cannes Festival. But the one piece that placed him on the top of Romanian directors was the feature film 12:08 East of Bucharest, mixing humour with drama, questioning the Romanian revolution in 1989. The latter brought him the Camera d’Or prize for the Best First Film at the Cannes Film Festival. Yet, Porumboiu didn’t stop there, releasing another masterpiece in 2009, Police, Adjective, a Kafkaesque movie about moral sense in an absurd society.
During his career, Nae Caranfil delivered several masterpieces that drove the national and international audience’s interest and acclaim. His feature film debut in 1993, È Pericoloso Sporgersi, won the ‘Critics Award’ at the Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival. The following Asfalt Tango and Dolce far niente made him one of the best directors of the 1990s. Nevertheless, in the 2000s, he made astounding movies like Filantropica, a bittersweet comedy and a satire of a reverse-values society and The Rest is Silence, a movie about moviemaking, both winners of several prizes and certainly of the public’s heart.
Director of the masterwork If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, written together with Cătălin Mitulescu, Florin Șerban made his debut in the world of filmmakers with an extraordinary piece. The movie didn’t only mark his own entrance, but also the first appearance on screen of actors George Pistereanu and Ada Condeescu. With such a great start, he is surely a director to keep an eye on.
Radu Munteanu is a director who manages to brilliantly capture real-life happenings, displaying Romania’s past and present realities through drama and comedy. Among his best films are The Paper will be Blue, the story of a militia force soldier that decides to fight for the cause of the 1989 revolution, Tuesday, after Christmas, a movie about love, relationship and choices in life and the Summer Holiday, regarding a recollection of youthful memories and the frustration of being an adult.
One of the most brilliant Romanian directors, Sergiu Nicolaescu has created true historical masterpieces that stand today as reference points in the Romanian cinema. His best film, that brought him international recognition, is the 1970 piece Michael the Brave, unveiling the rule of the historical personality of the Wallachian ruler and its battles to unify the principalities that encompass today’s territory of Romania. Another historical epic is the movie Dacii, screened in 1966, about Romanian’s ancestors, the Dacians, classified as one of the most viewed Romanian movies.
Director of the most awarded Romanian short film, The Tube with a Hat, presented in more than 70 international festivals, Radu Jude keeps getting national and international recognition for his stirring pieces. His feature film debut, The Happiest Girl in the World, was also granted several international prizes, including the CICAE Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2015, he got the Silver Bear for the Best Director with his captivating piece Aferim!, uncovering the Gypsy slavery in the 19th-century Romania.
Cătălin Peter Netzer
Mainly known for his feature film Child’s Pose, revealing the mores of the society through a mother-son relationship that involves influence and corruption, Cătălin Peter Netzer is one of the newest Romanian directors that has gained international recognition. His film brought him the Golden Bear, being the first Romanian film to win the top award at the Berlinale. However, neither his debut feature film Maria, nor his second one Medal of Honor were less appreciated, boasting several national and international awards. With these said, there are surely more masterworks to come.
Since his debut with the short movie Trafic, winner of the Palme d’Or award for short film in 2004, Cătălin Mitulescu keeps captivating his public with intriguing stories. From his movie The Way I Spent the End of the World, an ironic and entertaining story about people’s will to escape the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, to his drama Loverboy, his movies feature an extraordinary mix of youthfulness, love and despair, showcasing the vices of our society.