From AFS Head of Film & Creative Media Holly Herrick
The Romanian director Radu Jude popped on the radar for Austin audiences when his second feature, EVERYBODY IN OUR FAMILY, became a surprise favorite of Fantastic Fest in 2013. A filmmaker who works outside of traditional genre conventions to make expansive and gorgeously cinematic narratives, Jude has had a prolific couple of years.
He brought home the Best Director Prize at the Berlinale for his pitch black comedic saga set in 1800s Romania, AFERIM!, and followed it up with the equally dark and beautifully funny and intellectual SCARRED HEARTS, which won a jury prize at Locarno in 2016. Now we await his next film, his first feature documentary that, like his two past narratives, deals in open secrets of Romania’s past.
While we wait, AFS is catching up with his latest two films that are making their first appearances in Austin, and we’ve rounded up some words from the critics about why you should mark your calendars for our screenings of AFERIM! And SCARRED HEARTS:
"'AFERIM!” — the title translates more or less as “Attaboy!” — is Radu Jude’s sublime new feature, a funny and brutal costume drama with a potent contemporary kick … [the movie] might be described as a perverse folk tale set in the present day. Its dry, wry minimalism will be familiar to devotees of the Romanian New Wave. Mr. Jude, while he shares with his contemporaries an unsentimental interest in human folly and failure, departs from the naturalism that has been their collective signature for the last decade… [AFERIM!] casts a fierce, revisionist eye on the past, finding the cruelty and prejudice that lie beneath the pageantry." – The New York Times, A.O. Scott
"Somehow, this movie, with all its full-frontal historical horror, is still loaded with laughs. It’s gallows humor reminiscent of Robert Altman’s best work." - TheGuardian, Jordan Hoffman
"[Jude] has created an uncommonly beautiful film (shot in 35mm widescreen and in the glory of black and white) that at times evokes the simple beauties of classic Westerns." – RogerEbert.com, Peter Sobczynski
"SCARRED HEARTS is the most interesting production I’ve seen from [Romania] this year…. Despite its bleak theme, the film brims with anarchic life... Marius Panduru’s Academy-ratio photography, each scene staged in mainly fixed tableaux, makes the film as memorable formally as it is dramatically." –FilmComment, Jonathan Romney
"Alternately funny, raunchy and sad, SCARRED HEARTS is an intimate look at one writer making the best of awful conditions. Starring extraordinary newcomer Lucian Tedor Rus in his first lead role, the movie tracks the experiences of 20-year-old Emanuel, who spends nearly the entire film hospitalized with a spinal disease — specifically, bone tuberculosis, which looks as awful as it sounds— that leaves him mostly immobile and bed-ridden. The source's author M. Blecher was himself afflicted by such a condition during the final decade of his life, perishing from the disease in his twenties and only finding posthumous acclaim. (SCARRED HEARTS is based on his semi-autobiographical novel.) But the movie focuses less on the plucky young man’s literary ambitions than the insular world that becomes his natural habitat. Set in 1937, as Adolf Hilter rose to power and the early stirrings of WWII put Europe on edge, the movie lingers with Emanuel and the various patients and doctors he befriends while lying around.…By chronicling Emanuel’s perseverance, SCARRED HEARTS successfully makes the case for the author’s work. But with its endearing characters and poignant themes, the movie doubles as a discovery for the filmmaker as well. Blecher’s career came to a sudden end early on, but SCARRED HEARTS suggests that Jude’s just getting started." - Indiewire, Eric Kohn
"Filmed on 35mm and in the Academy Ratio, SCARRED HEARTS feels almost literally like a window into the past. If it wasn’t for the richness of the colors and the precision of the framing, we might almost take these as precious home movies, a notion underlined by the succession of black and white photographs from the 1930s which are among the first things we see on screen." – ScreenInternational, Allan Hunter