The Romanian Film Festival Returns to Washington, D.C., June 3-19, 2022
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
One of the largest events of its kind in North America, The Romanian Film Festival of Washington, D.C. (RFF) kicks off at historical Miracle Theatre on June 3rd, 2022, under the motto: “Reinventing Realism — New Cinema from Romania”. Bigger and bolder than the previous two editions, RFF 2022 showcases the creative diversity of a cinema that has become a force on the international arthouse circuit.
Curated by Romanian film critic Mihai Fulger, the program, running for three consecutive weekends, features 12 of the most original and thought-provoking productions of the pandemic years which take the viewer through a veritable deep-dive into the Eastern European psyche, offering a better understanding of current dynamics dramatically unfolding in the Old World. No less than 13 Romanian directors, actors, producers and film critics will cross the Atlantic to introduce their films and meet with the American cinephiles.
Dedicated to the 25th anniversary since the launch of the Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century between Romania and the United States of America, RFF 2022 is organized by the Embassy of Romania to the United States, Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, and Miracle Theatre, with the generous support of Transylvania Bank (Banca Transilvania) from Romania.
Free entry to all screenings (no booking necessary).
"Get a crash course on Romanian cinema and culture at this free film festival" - NBC Washington
"The Romanian Film Festival is back for a third year, showcasing 12 movie screenings and meet-and-greets with Romanian directors, actors, and producers over three weekends." - DCist
"Explore Romanian film all month long at this free festival. Curated by Romanian film critic Mihai Fulger, it includes 12 features released during the pandemic and offers viewers a better understanding of the Eastern European psyche via various Q&As with directors." - Washingtonian (Top 5 Picks of the Week)
Weekend 1: June 3-5
Blue Moon (Crai nou)
Friday, June 3, 7:00 pm
d. Alina Grigore, 2021, subitles, 85’
Followed by a Q&A with director Alina Grigore
The film follows the psychological journey of a young woman to her dehumanizing process. Irina struggles to achieve higher education and escape the violence of her dysfunctional family. An ambiguous sexual experience with an artist will spur her intention to fight the violence in her family. BLUE MOON is a psychological drama that involves family, sex and a little bit of blood.
The Campaign (Berliner)
Saturday, June 4, 4:00 pm
d. Marian Crișan, 2020, subitles, 93’
Followed by a Q&A with director Marian Crișan
Viorel, a quiet, upright tractor driver from a small town in west Romania, meets Mocanu, a high-profile politician campaigning for a seat in the European Parliament. Mocanu’s car has broken down nearby and Viorel and his wife welcome the politician into their humble home. Under investigation for corruption, Mocanu sees an opportunity and decides to stay with this modest family during the rest of the campaign, winning people’s hearts by posing as a common man next to his “old friend”, the honest, hard-working farmer. In return, Viorel will get a new tractor.
The Windseeker (Căutătorul de vânt)
Saturday, June 4, 7:00 pm
d. Mihai Sofronea, 2022, subitles, 110’
Followed by a Q&A with director Mihai Sofronea
Radu lives a solitary, sterile life. A promising job interview seems to give him a chance of breaking free from depression, but after some medical tests required by the company, he finds out that he only has a few more months left to live. He leaves the city and after weeks of driving, exhausted, he stops in the middle of a village. Where to?
Poppy Field (Câmp de maci)
Sunday, June 5, 1:00 pm
d. Eugen Jebeleanu, 2020, subitles, 81’
Planning to spend a romantic weekend with his long-distance boyfriend, Cristi’s tender reunion is cut short when he is called in to handle a crisis at work. Cristi is a member of the Bucharest police force, and his unit is sent to quell a protest at a local movie theater, where a far-right group has interrupted the screening of a queer film. As tensions between the homophobic protesters and the audience mount, Cristi, closeted to his fellow officers, begins to spiral out of control when he spots a former fling in the crowd. A violent outburst threatens to expose Cristi’s secret and forces him to confront the contradictions between his personal and professional life. Inspired by true events, POPPY FIELD “reveals aspects of the wider damage done by prejudice that are rarely seen onscreen” (Eye for Film) and is a “worthy entry into the Romanian New Wave” (Art House Street).
Sunday, June 5, 4:00 pm
d. Emanuel Pârvu, 2021, subitles, 96’
One day, teenager Magda offers her expensive necklace to a sick child in the hospital she volunteers for. Her father is certain she is lying again. When she proves her innocence, he is ashamed and guilty but also incapable to admit he was wrong. Relationships are now broken and in chaos, and past decisions have irreversible outcome.
Weekend 2: June 10-12
Friday, June 10, 7:00 pm
d. Bogdan George Apetri, 2020, subitles, 123’
Followed by a Q&A with director Bogdan George Apetri and actor Bogdan Farcaș
A small city in north Romania. Despite growing debts and an entangled personal life, Florin Iespas, a police detective, is determined to solve a hard case no one seems to care about. Ordered to put down the file, the cop continues his off-the-record investigations, soon turning up a strong lead for two hotel fires that resulted in several deaths. The suspect is Bănel, a security guard of Roma descent, but he denies everything. Faced with the refusal of the Police Chief to support his inquiry, the mistrust of his colleagues, and his own inner demons, the cop is forced to come up with a convoluted plan and take extraordinary measures in order to bring it to its inevitable conclusion. Under the appearance of a sharp, tightly woven detective movie, the film is a story that speaks on issues in the police system, power abuse, sexism, masculinity and prejudice.
Sunday, June 12, 1:00 pm
d. Andrei Huțuleac, 2021, subitles, 78’
Followed by a Q&A with director Andrei Huțuleac and actress Andreea Grămoșteanu
A social satire with tragic elements about the Internet era. Inspired by real facts, the scenario proposes us a location in the Romanian space of the first online shaming case in the history of the Internet. In 2005, a woman’s dog poops on a metro car in Seoul, South Korea. From unknown reasons the woman refuses to collect the mess, is photographed and the incident turns viral through an opinion blog.
Sunday, June 12, 4:00 pm
d. Horațiu Mălăele, 2020, subitles, 104’
Followed by a Q&A with director Horațiu Mălăele and actor Bogdan Mălăele
New York City. After having witnessed a reckoning between mobsters, Matthew Rodriguez, taxi driver and amateur actor, is enrolled by the FBI in a witness protection program. But Matthew Rodriguez is in fact Luca Plătici, the son of a hard-boiled Romania communist, who had managed to flee the country just a few months before the revolution. Returning home after more than 20 years, Luca is assigned to a safe house where he is forbidden to interact with anyone from his former life. However, things get complicated when he meets Giulia, a former prostitute who is now under the protection of the authorities as well, and Nedelcu, the officer who had tortured him in the past for border trespassing, now his supervisor.
Weekend 3: June 18-19
Man and Dog (Om câine)
Saturday, June 18, 4:00 pm
d. Ștefan Constantinescu, 2021, subitles, 106’
Followed by a Q&A with film critic Mihai Fulger
After a mysterious text message from an unknown number, Doru suddenly leaves his work in Göteborg and returns to his hometown in Romania with a growing load of jealousy on his back. The message claims that his wife is unfaithful and, despite the evidence contradicting this, he lets his anxiety grow to gigantic proportions and initiates on his own a meticulous investigation. MAN AND DOG is a deep dive into the patriarchal male role, a guestworker’s absent existence and a breathtaking exposé of a man’s paranoia trip, as well as a skillful display of stylistically pure arthouse with cataclysmic emotional crescendos.
Saturday, June 18, 7:00 pm
d. Valentin Hotea, 2021, subitles, 97’
Followed by a Q&A with actress Ioana Flora and film critic Mihai Fulger
Ducu is a 45-year-old Romanian writer facing a midlife crisis. He leaves Bucharest to be part of a creative residence in Berlin and in an attempt to rebuild his life. He swings between two countries and two women: Andra, his hot-tempered wife, who wants a divorce, and Giulia, Ducu’s love from his youth, who lives in an eco-village in Germany - Lebensdorf. Looking for an answer, he goes through a series of strange, funny and even eye-opening events.
Otto the Barbarian (Otto barbarul)
Sunday, June 19, 1:00 pm
d. Ruxandra Ghițescu, 2020, subitles, 110’
Followed by a Q&A with director Ruxandra Ghițescu, actress Ioana Flora and film critic Mihai Fulger
Otto, a 17-year-old punk, becomes involved in the social services investigation of his girlfriend’s Laura death. He is caught in a vicious circle created by his parents, his mute grandpa and Laura’s mother. Laura is still part of his life through the video recordings that the boy edits constantly, trying to make sense of the events. Throughout this process, Otto must take his part of responsibility for what happened.
Sunday, June 19, 4:00 pm
d. Bogdan George Apetri, 2021, subitles, 118’
Followed by a Q&A with actress Ioana Bugarin and film critic Mihai Fulger
Divided into two chapters, MIRACLE follows young nun Cristina as she sneaks out of her isolated monastery to attend to an urgent matter. Her enigmatic journey takes her all around town, but she is seemingly unable to solve her problem and find the man she is looking for. Out of options, she returns in the evening only to meet an unexpected fate on her way back to the convent. The second part of the film deals with Marius Preda, a determined police detective trying to understand what happened to her. Marius retraces Cristina’s journey, step by step, through all the places she visited. In a perfectly mirrored structure, his investigation uncovers clues and revelations leading not only to the unfathomable truth behind Cristina’s mysterious actions, but possibly, to an actual miracle as well.
Original film posters: