“Romanian cinema is on a good path” – Richard Peña @ TIFF Lounge

A very interesting open discussion with Richard Peña made us think more about the future of Romanian cinema yesterday in TIFF lounge. He is a professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in international cinema and film theory, and from 1988 until 2012 he was the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival - one of the major film festivals in America. At the meeting with young professionals in the film industry, directors, film critics and students Richard Peña shared his opinion about the history of New York Film Festival and Lincoln Center, told about his Romanian series and his acquaintance with Romanian film industry. Mona Nicoara, the moderator of the discussion at TIFF Lounge, asked Richard Peña tough questions about the state of the Romanian cinema and film school here.

At the very beginning Richard noted that it’s his fifth time in Romania, but the first time in Cluj-Napoca and thus at TIFF, because each time he remained in Bucharest. In addition, he said he was invited several times to participate in this festival, but each time due to professional obligations and lack of free time he couldn’t come.

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Speaking about Romanian cinema, the professor noted that directors do quality work here and, from his point of view, the New Wave of Romanian cinema began with Death of Mr. Lazarescu, directed by Cristi Puiu and premiered in 2006 in New York.

"It was completely new cinema and since then, as being part of Romania cinema for over 20 years, I tried to find connections with Romanian cinema that I knew in the 80s. Together with Mrs. Corina Şuteu, who was then the director of ICR New York, I sought a formula that would bring together the two cinemas. When you talk about Romania, you talk about continuity, history, tradition regarding this cinema and we wanted to show it," - said Richard Peña.

Being a member of the competition jury of the Romanian Days at the TIFF festival, Richard stressed that Sieranevada is a masterpiece. I was glad to see such a wonderful movie.

Talking about cinema in Romania, Richard Peña also pointed that there are not enough cinemas in the country: "From what I know, a problem in Romania are cinemas, being more precise -  their absence.It’s very impotrant for Romanian cinema to reach the audience, and without movie theaters this is a problem. Otherwise, Romanian cinema is on a good path," - said the professor.

In addition, he said that TIFF is a wonderful opportunity to do so  - to show high quality movies to the public. He also insisted on the idea of festival promotion nationally and bringing the movies to other cities and counties. "We are in the tenth year of the Romanian New Wave cinema and we can see that films still fresh. For this area it is extremely beneficial to have a festival to provide a platform for national productions to see and international as well".

Speaking about how different film festivals are – in Cluj and New York - Richard Peña replied that every festival is suitable for a particular location where it takes place, to particular culture and public.

"There are many ways to do a festival. When you think about making a festival the first question you should ask yourself: where is my festival taking place? There are several film festivals that certainly would not go very well in New York or would go well. It is a challenge to find the most suitable films for a festival. The selection process is the most important”.

Mona Nicoara asked Richard Peña, as a professor of the best film school in the US, how does a good film school look like and what is the differences between film academy and reality happening on the production stage. She said that  film schools in Romania (for example, the one that is in Bucharest) often tend to be more conservative, while cinematography is quite the opposite.

It’s very good to have a basis, to know the rules so afterwards you know how to break them. Very often I am asked to un-teach students that young teachers shown  them, because it’s vey important to provide young specialists with alternatives".

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