Film Screening. Aferim!

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room, 1219 International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St)

Please join the East Central European Center at the Harriman Instiute for a special screening of the Romanian film Aferim! (2015), introduced by Professor Mona Momescu and followed by a discussion.

This event is part of the Spring 2020 East Central Europe Film Series: Through the Lens of History.

Described by Sheri Linden in the Los Angles Times as “a wickedly droll ride into Romania’s feudal past,” Aferim! goes beyond the mere Western perception of a remote time in the history of a forlorn country. Equally, it is not a product made for the expectations of the Western audience, as they are imagined by Romanian filmmakers of the last two decades. The film is directed by Radu Jude with cinematography by Marius Panduru.

A local warden-turned-bounty-hunter takes his young son on an expedition to catch a runaway Roma slave who allegedly had an affair with his master’s wife. The runaway is caught, and as the three men travel back to where the slave will be subjected to capital punishment by his dishonored master, a strange and unspoken fraternity develops between them, across social classes, prejudice, and various forms of slavery.

The film is a rarely-seen-before analysis of the Phanariotes age (late 1700s to the 1830s) in the Romanian principalities. Turkish, Greek and Romanian administrators act in a cacophony of rules, while ordinary people have to abide. Roma slaves and the wives of aristocrats alike suffer a lack of freedom and the fear of being disposable objects at the mercy of the “master and ruler of the house.” Petty clerks perpetuate the same abusive behavior against those who are defenseless, collecting absurd taxes. Byzantinism, which existed well into the late 1800s in Romanian society, permits this all to proceed unquestioned— this is fate! The only exception to this chaos is the plethora of rhymed Romanian lore, which the characters fall back on to make sense of their lives. Again, it is the rhetoric of Byzantium and of the Balkans.

Filmed in black and white, Aferim! (which ironically translates as “well done/bravo/kudos”) stands as one of the major accomplishments of the Romanian cinema in the last decade.


East Central Europe Film Series: Through the Lens of History

This Spring 2020 film series showcases films from East Central Europe with pre-20th century historical settings. Enjoy some classics of East European cinema and join the conversation about how filmmakers from the region have worked with their countries' complicated histories.

January 30, 2020: AFERIM!

7:30pm in 1219 International Affairs Building
Directed by Radu Jude. 108 min.

February 13, 2020: THE GOAT HORN (Козият рог)

8:10pm in 1201 International Affairs Building
Directed by Metodi Andonov. 103 min.

March 6, 2020: THE ROUND-UP (Szegénylegények)

7:30pm in 1219 International Affairs Building
Directed by Miklós Jancsó. 95 min.

April 7, 2020: THE LAST RELIC (Viimne reliikvia)

7:30pm in 1219 International Affairs Building
Directed by Grigori Kromanov. 95 min.