You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Cinema Is About Truth,’ Romanian Director Cristi Puiu Tells Ji.hlava Masterclass

“Cinema is not about advertising or propaganda. Cinema is not about beauty or beautiful images. Cinema is about truth.”

So stated Romanian director Cristi Puiu, delivering a masterclass at the Ji.hlava Intl. Documentary Film Festival.

A pioneer of the “Romanian New Wave” movement, Puiu won the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes for his film “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” (2005). His films “Aurora” (2010) and “Sieranevada” (2016) also played at Cannes.

Philosophical and contemplative, Puiu spoke out against filmmakers who “push an agenda” with “propaganda films.”

“The problem with propaganda films is that you are betraying yourself first as a human,” he cautioned. “If you are genuinely curious to find out who you are, you are going to leave this propaganda field.”

Truth, he added, is not something that filmmakers can articulate and reach – rather it is “like a destination for eternity.” He also explained that truth is difficult to achieve in film because all filmmakers are bombarded with information coming from outside their head that threatens to disrupt their vision.

Puiu said it bothered him that so many filmmakers are pushing lies, and that it was “very easy to contaminate the brains of others” with ideologies which stop people from seeing the world as it really is.

Popular on Variety

“The world is living through really dangerous times. Those who lived through communist times, like in the Czech Republic or Romania or elsewhere, they know what I am talking about. The consequences of propaganda is fear. And if you don’t stop this dangerous game, if you like to play with propaganda, you are going to be responsible for a long series of crimes.”

Puiu said filmmakers have to “put themselves and their heart on the table” when they make a film.

“You start asking yourselves serious questions about the world you live in. When you record these images and put together all the elements of your film, you are assuming a very serious responsibility.”

He also admitted that he treats each film he makes as if it might be his last to win funding so he doesn’t have to compromise his vision.

“Usually you are going to have to make a series of compromises to get a film to the end. But there are some limits to these compromises – and one of these limits is not to alter your vision or what you want to say. Because then you are just a traitor.”

More Film

  • Macao Project Market Participants

    ‘Dear Wormwood’ Claims Macao Project Market Prize

    Philippines director Dodo Dayao’s supernatural horror project “Dear Wormwood” claimed the top prize on Sunday at the IFFAM Project Market, part of the ongoing International Film Festival & Awards Macao. “Wormwood” is a tale of five women living together in a remote house in the forest, where a mystery illness strikes one of the quintet, [...]

  • International Film Festival and Awards Macao

    Macao Industry Debate: Streaming Not Done Reshaping Indie Film Business

    New viewing habits brought on by the rise of streaming have hastened the demise of the mid-budget American indie, changed the very definition of arthouse cinema, and shaken the indie distribution business. But theatrical is still here to stay, attendees of the Macao International Film Festival’s closed-door industry panels concluded Saturday. Panelists gathered to discuss [...]

  • Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly

    Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly Focusing on Genre Films and Series

    2019 has been an excellent year for films from Africa and the Middle East, with a higher presence in A-list festivals, and kudos for films such as Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The “new wave” of Arab and African cinema includes a small group of films that explore links with [...]

  • Producer Said Hamich on 'Zanka Contact,'

    Producer Said Hamich on Atlas Workshop Winner 'Zanka Contact,' Upcoming Projects

    Two projects from Franco-Moroccan producer Saïd Hamich won big at the Marrakech Film Festival’s Atlas Workshop this year, with the upcoming Kamal Lazraq-directed feature “Les Meutes” nabbing a development prize and the recently wrapped “Zanka Contact” winning an $11,000 post-production grant. “Zanka Contact” director Ismaël El Iraki was on-hand to present 10 minutes of footage, [...]

  • Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key

    Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key in Promoting Films From the Arab World, Africa

    Looking back at the lineups of key festivals such as Cannes and Venice this year, 2019 stands out as a banner year for movies from the African continent and the Arab world. During a panel hosted at the Netflix-sponsored industry event Atlas Workshops during the Marrakech Film Festival, Rémi Bonhomme, who works at Cannes’ Critics’ [...]

  • Robert RedfordRobert Redford tribute, 18th Marrakech

    Robert Redford Talks About Potential Next Film, U.S. Politics, Life Philosophy

    During a 90-minute onstage conversation at the Marrakech Film Festival, where he received an honorary tribute, Robert Redford spoke about his life-long quest for truth and freedom, and his political engagement through films, as well as a long-gestating project he’s considering producing, despite having announced his retirement. When he has spoken about the project, “109 [...]

  • For Sama SXSW Cannes Documentary

    'For Sama' Wins Best Feature at International Documentary Association Awards

    Syrian Civil War diary “For Sama” has won the best feature award from the International Documentary Association for Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. The award was presented by Frances Fisher on Saturday night at the 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. The first-time award for Best Director went to Steven Bognar and Julia [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content