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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

The Death of Mr. Puiu and the rigidity of a communist system

thedeathofmrlazaresc572398.jpgBetween screenings, I’m trying to carve out the time to close the books on a few more euphoric moments from Sundance, but then I find probably the most depressing story I’ve seen so far this year, from Bilge Ebiri at ScreenGrab: a gifted filmmaker who might just have quit: Ebiri reports on a press release that “Cristi Puiu, winner of the 2005 Prize Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Bear for Short Film at the 2004 Berlinale, announced at a recent press conference in Romania, his decision to no longer participate in the contests held by The Romanian National Centre for Cinematography. The announcement follows the denial of development funds for two of his projects, which were submitted to the latest contest organized by the Centre for Cinematography… Puiu [also] stated that he will not make use of the funding granted to another one of his projects during a previous contest…” Illuminates Ebiri, “[T]he idea of a smallish Romanian film director choosing to forgo state support for his films may not seem like a big deal, but… Puiu is the director of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu the much-acclaimed masterpiece that made its way to the top spots in… critical surveys in 2006… In countries like Romania, state funding through organizations like the Center for Cinematography is absolutely crucial for film production to survive…This is Puiu basically saying he will not accept this funding, even if it means he never gets to make another film, which it very well might. The release goes on to say that “the hard line decision is a protest against what Puiu sees as the ‘rigidity of a communist system’ still present within the Centre for Cinematography and the way the organization spends public money on productions with no value.” Fuck. You can find a remarkable earlier interview with Puiu at the link.

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