Drama reps Romania in Oscar race

Romanian helmer Corneliu Porumboiu, having most recently won his country’s respected Transylvania fest with “Police, Adjective” has shown the kind of boldness that is surprisingly rare in Eastern Europe. Following its attention-getting run at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, “Police, Adjective” was picked as Romania’s Oscar entry. Pic has also gotten a U.S. deal with IFC as well as a brace of international sales.

Porumboiu’s minimalist approach to a small-town cop’s efforts to do the right thing can make for tough going. Audiences who sit through bare-bones production values and the three 10-minute takes during the film have been known to squirm as they consider his exploration into how the system crushes individuals who deviate from expectations.

But it was the second time Porumboiu scored the Transylvania prize, after winning in 2006 with his wholly different comedy, “12:08 East of Bucharest.” That pic, which also won attention abroad, portrayed a pragmatist’s efforts to cast himself as a hero of Romania’s revolution on a low-budget local TV chat show.

Both were based on original scripts, as is Porumboiu’s next feature, which remains under wraps for now. But he has fest scouts and arthouse distribs in anticipation for the next tale repping Romania’s New Wave of talent and vision. There’s little doubt it will be more work that is wry, but politically and socially aware, with the focus on characters rather than slick, salable packaging.

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