Profile: Cristian Mungiu

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  • 22 October 2009
Profile: Cristian Mungiu

Name Cristian Mungiu

Born 27 April 1968

Background The graduate of the Bucharest Film School became the first Romanian director to win the Palme d’Or with his abortion drama 4 months 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Before becoming a full-time director, Mungai, the son of a doctor, worked as a teacher and a journalist. His first feature film Occident (West), made in 2002, is a comedy about the population drain from Romania to the west after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Mungiu has been noted for his remarkable prowess at mixing humour into otherwise weighty subject maters.

What’s he up to now? Mungiu has written and produced the portmanteau film Tales from the Golden Age, about the idiosyncratic behaviour of the Romanian people living under the Communist dictatorship of Ceaucescu. The film is made up of five short films (Mungiu has also directed one of the segments himself) which undermine the myth and propaganda put forward by Ceaucescu that Romania was living in a ‘golden age’ under his regime. Once again the 41-year-old director returns to comedy to highlight problems in Romanian life. What the director, producer and writer seems to be saying is that without laughter, life would be truly awful.

On producing a portmanteau project
‘I decided to have other people come in and direct bits of the film because it was conceived like this, it was episodic. At the beginning I only knew that Hanno Höffer would do one of the episodes, as he is a partner in my company. After winning at Cannes I decided that it would make sense to have less well known people do the project as I knew that I could help them become visible and I needed people who were 35–40 who have not made the first film but knew life under Ceaucescu. This was important.’

On Ceaucescu
‘During that period, we weren’t paying too much attention to Ceaucescu; we were trying to pretend he was not there, he was already in life too much. It’s fair to say that most of the clashes were with our parents. I was 21 when he collapsed.’

Interesting Fact Different countries are seeing different versions of the film. There are seven short films that have been made and the film is being released in two parts as Tales of Power and Tales of Love in Romania and France. In England we have five, while in Italy they’re seeing four.

Tales from the Golden Age is on selected release from Fri 30 Oct.

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