Cristi Puiu – Winner of the Golden Camera Award

Romanian director Cristi Puiu does not come to film festivals often. However, he regularly wins important awards, of which he already has fifty. His films are often screened at Art Film and are very popular with audiences, which is why this director is one of the most important guests we have ever had at the festival. At the 30th jubilee edition of Art Film, he personally presented his most recent piece MMXX and, in addition, he also honoured the visitors with an expert masterclass, where he passed on some of his masterful filmmaking experience.

In an interview with Juraj Čurný, Cristi Puiu talked about his work and his relationship to film festivals.

Mr. Director, you have come to us by your own car all the way from Romania. Why did you decide to go this way?

The truth is, I don’t like leaving my home. I’m happy in my apartment and by driving my own car, I kind of stay at home too. Otherwise, I would have to travel by train or plane, which are not mine. That’s why I prefer to travel in my car, like a snail with a house (smile).

You are known primarily as a director and screenwriter, but you also acted in your film Aurora, the leading role, in fact. What made you do it? How did you feel both in front of and behind the camera?

It ensued from the concept of the film. Gradually, as I was creating, I became more and more aware that the only one who could do it was me. It was really challenging, especially in terms of time. Filming took almost twice as long as usual because I had to check all the shots myself. So instead of fifty days of filming, it was over eighty. I think it was the hardest project I’ve ever worked on.

Would you do it again?

Never (smile).

Your films are also referred to as “slow cinema”. All films – with the exception of the debut – are over two hours long. Is that on purpose? Are you counting on people who watch your films to be more thoughtful than the mainstream audience?

I understand that people talk about slow cinema, but it is not clear what that actually means. We would first have to define whether it is a matter of the pace or the length of the film or something else. I think the concept came about because we’re comparing reality to film. Which in itself is problematic because the film was made as black and white and silent. Reality is different; we know colours and sounds in the world around us. But we never complained about silent films. My films have a different pace than that of reality. Viewers tell me that they sometimes cannot even hear then own breath when they watch them. I’m not making them slow on purpose, I just feel that way. If God gives me another few years to live, I would like to film the absurd drama The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco, which is about 60 pages long, which is about 70 minutes of the film. Even so, I think it will be labelled as slow cinema.

We’re in a film festival environment, what is your relationship to such events?

I have a positive attitude towards them. People are kind and outgoing at such events. It’s great when festivals are held to bring people together to watch films. However, one thing bothers me, I don’t believe in competitions and awards. I understand that they are important for young filmmakers to get the confirmation of the quality of their work. On the other hand, juries are under a lot of pressure. They have to decide who to award the prize to and often make mistakes. I made them too when I was on the jury. It seems to me that we evaluate culture as sports. It’s as if we’ve seen too many football matches and transferred that way of evaluation to other spheres as well. Well, as I said, I really like the atmosphere of festivals.

During his masterclass, Cristi Puiu in his earnest answers explained his inclination towards cinematic realism, described his work with actors and offered a personal insight into his work, expanding our commonly available knowledge with surprising facts from Romanian cinema and unexpected opinions on the meaning of his films.

“It is said that The Death of Mr. Lazarescu represents a criticism of healthcare in Romania, but it does not. It is a film about a man who is dying. We would prefer to blame someone, to point the finger at who is to blame. But in reality, no one is responsible for this. We can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a doctor. Many of us cannot even take care of our loved ones, let alone strangers. Therefore, we should not judge anyone. The problem is that we are very tolerant with ourselves and at the same time we demand too much from others,” Cristi Puiu said during the masterclass.

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The 30th edition of the International Film Festival Art Film will take place thanks to the support of:

Organiser: ART FILM FEST s.r.o.;

Co-organizers: City of Košice, K13 – Košice cultural centers, ART FILM FEST, n.o., LGM, s.r.o., FORLIVE;

The festival was financially supported by: Audiovisual Fund
The festival is co-financed by the Košice self-governing region from the Terra Incognita program;

Senior advertising partner: Slovenská elektrizačná prenosová sústava, a.s.;

Main partners: Národná lotériová spoločnosť TIPOS, Východoslovenská energetika, EUK-Force, SPP, CODES Brand House;

Automotive partner: PORSCHE; Official hotel: Hotel Yasmin;

Main media partners: TV JOJ, Pravda, Eurotelevízia;

Advertising partners: construction company Adefex, Jadrová a vyraďovacia spoločnosť, a.s.,  Best Press, U. S. Steel Košice, Betpres, Transpetrol, SLOVAKIA TRAVEL, ANTIK Telecom, Cinema Úsmev, CORE LABS, Lucka spring water;

Technological partners: NOV, ZEBRA, DELTA OnLine, ARICOMA, BigON;

Official contractors: DKC Veritas, Eastern Slovak Museum in Košice, Krušovice BOHÉM, BARZZUZ, DOMOS SLOVAKIA, Restaurant Contessa, Café Slávia; Official wine: Kubbo Select and Ostrožovič;

Media partners: JOJ PLAY, JOJ 24, Film Europe, Rádio KOŠICE,, Forbes, Korzár, Slovenka, SITA, TASR, See & Go, BigMedia, Košice City Guide,, Visit Košice,,, MOJAkultúra;

Partners: Východoslovenská vodárenská spoločnosť, Nadácia CEF, Slovnaft, AUPARK Košice, Carmeuse Slovakia, JOJ Cinema, Hydrotour travel agency, Taper, YumEarth, KAIFER advokátska kancelária s.r.o., Deva, WITKOWITZ SLOVAKIA, Košice Airport, ECO Technologies, CPK Slovakia, Casa Trade – Casablanca cafe, DC MEDICAL, KPK Reklama, Kvitok, HAIR Factory Košice, Kvety Garomi, Air Taxi, Tesco Stores SR, a.s.;

Financial awards partners: CANON, Filmarina;

Catering partners: Ohnisko – Fire Dining & Brew Bar, Pub u kohúta, El Nacional, Maiko Sushi, Café de Paris, Tabačka Kulturfabrik; BISTRO Blanc, Andiamo GROUP, BENZE; Red Velvet Cake Bar; Tahiti, Café Veritas