Cluj TIFF opens with Funny Games

By Jorn Rossing Jensen in Cluj

    The 7th Transilvanian International Film Festival in Cluj, which was opened last night (Friday, 30 May) by Austrian director Michael Haneke's own US remake of his Funny Games, is foremost an audience festival, last year reaching 55,000 admissions.

    But with the high profile of New Romanian Cinema in the international markets, the festival - which is Romania's largest and the first to receive EU backing - has become increasingly attractive to foreign producers, sales agents and festival programmers.

    "To me it is important to go, because I would like to continue my relationship with Romanian cinema, and mainly see the latest local productions," said French producer and international sales agent Philippe Bober, of Paris-based The Coproduction Office. But also because Cluj is a young festival with a good energy, which usually gathers a lot of interesting film professionals whom I would like to meet."

    Bober bought Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr Lazarescu after a Paris screening in 2005, before the film went to Cannes. "And I assure you at the time nobody was talking of a Romanian wave or New Romanian Cinema," he recalled, but he sold it to over 25 countries. His second Romanian acquisition, Corneliu Porumboiu's 12:08 East of Bucharest, went to more than 30.

    "The Romanian Days section was introduced in the festival's second year, and has developed into one of the corner-stones of the event. Most of the Romanian film industry comes down from Bucharest to participate not only in the presentation of new films, but also in conferences, panels and introductions of upcoming projects," explained executive festival director Rik Vermeulen.

    "We are usually launching several new Romanian films here, as well as screening for the first time in the country the titles which have just returned from Cannes. We have started to set up training programmes and workshops for the young generations. Among the new initiatives this year is a focus on cinema from Moldova, both with finished films and works-in-progress," he concluded.

    This year's selection for the Romanian Days in Cluj comprises the recent Palme d'Or winner from the Côte d'Azur, Marian Crisan's short, Megatron, as well as Radu Muntean's Boogie, which was on show in Directors' Fortnight - totalling eight features (four premieres) and 22 shorts. The festival, which will wrap on 8 June, will unspool 192
    films, including 117 features and 75 shorts.