Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” has been chosen as Romania’s entry for the Oscars’ foreign-language film race. The film won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Central and Eastern Europe’s leading movie event.
Set in present-day Romania, the film centers on a stage director, played by Ioana Iacob, delivering a riveting performance, who is preparing to stage a historical re-enactment of an episode from the Holocaust: the massacre of tens of thousands of Jews by Romanian troops in Odessa. (The title is an actual quote from a Romanian government minister in 1941.) The director battles against official unease about the allegedly unpatriotic nature of the play, the trivialization of such horrific historical events, and a revival of nationalistic fervor in the country.
Variety critic Jessica Kiang wrote: “Jude’s extraordinary opus can be overly didactic and unapologetically intellectual at times, but it is also startling — a provocative, sarcastic, and momentous act of interrogation between the past and the present that escalates to an impasse, with the hands of each locked around the neck of the other.”
She concluded: “Of viciously pointed relevance anywhere populism is on the rise, ‘Barbarians’ is a fiercely intelligent, engaging and challenging wake-up call, a film that leaves you smarter at the end than when you went in, but also sadder and significantly more terrified. It is easy for unprincipled people to act barbarously if they do not care how history will view them. And it is easy not to care about how history will view you, if you do not care about history at all.”
Jude’s debut feature, “The Happiest Girl in the World,” received the 2008 Sundance/NHK Filmmakers award, and won the CICAE prize when it played in Berlinale’s Forum section the following year. “Everybody in Our Family,” his second feature, also premiered in Berlinale’s Forum in 2012, and won the Heart Award at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
Jude’s third feature, “Aferim!,” was awarded the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015, while his fourth, “Scarred Hearts,” received the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno Film Festival in 2016.
Ada Solomon, who produced “Barbarians” through her company Hi Film Productions, also produced Jude’s “The Happiest Girl in the World,” “Everybody in Our Family” and “Aferim!” She also produced 2013 Berlinale Golden Bear winner “Child’s Pose,” directed by Călin Peter Netzer.
The co-producers are Endorfilm, Les Films d’Ici, Klas Film and Komplizen Film. Beta Cinema is handling world sales.