As November hits, so does the crunch of leaves, bulky sweaters, the seasonal flair for pumpkin-themed drinks. Add to this year’s autumn: Romanian film.

Romanian Film Series

Saturday and Sunday and Nov. 18 and 19 at 4 p.m.
Helmut Stern Auditorium

Free

The Fourth Annual Romanian Film Series, which begins Saturday, will spotlight four Romanian-produced films over the course of two weekends. As a part of the American Romanian Festival, the film series intends to illuminate aspects of modern Romanian culture and its art forms to audiences.

According to Ramona Uritescu-Lombard, a lecturer in the Comparative Literature and Germanic Languages & Literatures Departments, filmgoers this season might be drawn to new Romanian cinema — a field wrapped in avid curiosity and trademark “Romanian black humor,” which she described as “a sort of wit that manifested itself during communism.”

According to Uritescu-Lombard, the film coordinator for the series, the films, which feature emerging filmmakers and critically acclaimed films by more established Romanian directors, were chosen in order to portray Romania as operating within the larger global community.

“It isn’t so much the feeling that Romania is still a world apart, that it’s still cut off,” she said. “No. Now, Romania is one country among other cultures, and so the issues that some of our films deal with are international issues.”

Uritescu-Lombard added, “There is still a Romanian context, but there’s no longer the feeling that this is an isolated world apart.”

The four films being shown — “Outbound” (Nov. 3), “Tuesday After Christmas” (Nov. 4), “Philantrophy” (Nov. 17) and “The Phantom Father” (Nov. 18) — will be accompanied by post-screening lectures in order to help audiences enhance their comprehension of the films. All films will be shown in Romanian with English subtitles.

Lecturers include “Outbound” director Bogdan George Apetri, LSA Comparative Literature Professor Dr. Corina Kesler and Uritescu-Lombard.

“As a member of the audience myself, I like a bit of introduction after a film,” Uritescu-Lombard said. “It helps me understand things better, and makes the experience of viewing a film or seeing a film more pleasurable because I get more of it.”

In addition, she said films seem to appeal more to audiences, creating a fresh channel for audiences to delve into.

“We live in a visual culture. That’s what has immediate appeal,” she said. “A lot of people are maybe better readers of film, or better viewers of film than they are viewers of books, and are more frequent readers of film than they are of books.”

The American Romanian Festival itself is a larger nonprofit organization based in southeastern Michigan. The festival hosts annual events, aimed to encourage an appreciation of Romanian culture for the larger community in the U.S.

“As with any smaller culture or lesser well-known culture, such as Romania, we all hope to gain a wider audience and appreciation and whatever cultural products we put out there,” Uritescu-Lombard said. “Perhaps by showing these films we might pique peoples’ interests.”

American Romanian Festival president Marian Tanau began the group in 2005 as a way to build interaction and appreciation for the Romanian community and its culture.

“The way we accomplish understanding (of Romanian culture) is by presenting a wide variety of events — such as classical music by Romanian composers that have not been heard of here in the U.S., or we have an artist that we feature,” Tanau said. “The goal is to present an ensemble, a picture of the culture.”

The festival presents annual orchestral concerts, lecture series, cooking lessons and a film series, spreading its events throughout the course of each year in order to raise awareness of Romanian culture.

Tanau commended the role of film as an ideal medium to communicate aspects of Romanian culture.

“A film has musical elements, it has habitual elements, and it has literature elements,” he said. “So all of a sudden, in two hours, you expose the audience to many sides of a culture presented in a film.”

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