Romania hopes to trump its Cannes prize with an Oscar

By Anca Paduraru
    Romanian officials hope the film that won the prestigious Palme d'Or this year will be one of the nominations for best foreign film at the Academy Awards in February 2008.
    A group of seven professionals in the film industry has selected Cristian Mungiu's 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days film as Romania's choice for submission for an Oscar. Besides the top honor at the Cannes International Film Festival, Mungiu's film, a harrowing story about a student who seeks an illegal abortion in communist Romania, has received numerous other awards.

    Since 1994 with two exceptions, Romania has submitted every year a domestic film to be considered by the American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the foreign film competition. None has yet made it to the final roster of the Academy's nominations. This year's selection for consideration was announced Aug. 23.

    In 2007 Romania was represented by Catalin Mitulescu's How I Spent the End of the World, and last year by Cristi Puiu's critically acclaimed The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Some other directors whose films Romania has sought to promote at the Oscars were Nae Caranfil, Sergiu Nicolaescu and Lucian Pintilie.

    Romania's so-called new wave of directors have clearly made their mark in recent years, with a cluster of prizes won in international film festivals. The international media began to take note after the 2005 Cannes prize at the "Un certain regard" section for The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.

    This year Romania scored a double victory at Cannes because Cristian Nemescu's California Dreamin' received the prize in the "Un certain regard" section.