Radu Jude (Romania, 1977) made his name with the shorts
Lampa cu Caciula/ The Tube with a Hat (2006),
Dimineata/ In the Morning (2007) and Alexandra (2007).
Cea mai Fericita Fata din Lume/ The Happiest Girl in the World (2009)
Film Pentru Prieteni/ A Film for Friends (2011), filmed in a single take, is the rambling monologue of a man who is taping his last will and testament before killing himself.
The farce Toata Lumea din Familia Noastra/ Everybody In Our Family (2012)
shorts O Umbra de Nor/ Shadow of a Cloud (2013) and It Can Pass Through the Wall (2014),
He contributed the segment Trece si Prin Perete/ It Can Pass through the Wall to Scurt/4 Istorii de Inima Neagra/ Black Heart Tales (2014).
Aferim (2015) is a black-and-white period drama (with minimal montage)
set in an anti-heroic brutish feudal era of slavery and superstition.
The natural and human landscape of this film is not all too dissimilar
from the anarchic lands of western movies, but it doesn't contain the moral
lesson that usually framed the western and led to the happy ending.
The story, that meanders from ugly action to ugly speech, is
a sardonic meditation on the brutal instincts of humanity, devoid of any morality in the absence of a police state, reminiscent of
Emir Kusturica's visceral black humor.
The land has been devastated by the plague and is mostly deserted.
A limping constable, Costandin, and his teenage son Ionita are riding from village to village,
searching for an escaped gypsy slave who stole money from the lord of the land.
They harass the slaves of every place, starting with a monastery, to get
information about the man's whereabouts.
Along the way they help a priest whose cart has broken down.
When they are done fixing it, the priest rewards them with a frenzied
racist sermon against Jews, Turks and gypsies (gypsies are at least human,
Jews are not).
While crossing a woof, they stumble onto a coach that has been attacked by bandits. Its passengers are lying on the ground, all dead except one, who is still
breathing, but the constable doesn't bother to stop and help him.
While crossing a swamp,
they meet a fishermen who is fishing down in the water to his chest and buy
a fish, but the constable pays very little for it.
They are stopped by the local constable who tells them to go back because this
is no longer their lord's jurisdiction but a little bit of money gains them
free passage and even a tip about where the slave is hiding.
The owners of the farm don't cooperate but the constable and his son find
first a gypsy child and then the gypsy slave that they want,
Carfin. The whole village tries to stop them, not to save the slave but because they are taking a poor farmer's slave without paying.
They also take the child, Tintiric.
The boy rides with Ionita and tells harrowing stories, including some lord who
buried a man alive. Carfin, meanwhile, protests his innocence: he did'n steal,
he claims that the lord wants him dead because the lord's wife seduced him.
The constable initially laughs at the claim, but then starts believing the slave
because the lord's wife has a reputation for sleeping around, even giving birth
to an illegitimate child.
The region is under Ottoman occupation and every now and then they meet coaches
carrying Turkish officials. The constable hates the Turks and either curses
against them or sends them in the wrong direction.
The child is beginning to feel at home with the two horsemen and begs the
constable to take him to his home.
The prisoner slave talks nonstop about the tough life of a slave.
But the constable instead takes the child to a market and sells him to
a priest who needs one for his church.
In the market we see a puppet show in which a man kills his wife and then
a priest, and we see a group of slaves begging people to buy them because
they have nothing to eat.
The constable Costandin takes both his son Ionita and the prisoner slave
Carfin to a bar where he meets friends and boasts
boasts about having been a mercenary and all the killing and raping that he did.
He gets drunk, then orders a prostitute for himself and one for his son.
That night, after singing and dancing with him,
Ionita asks his father whether they can free the slave, but Constandin has
no feelings: his job is to catch runaways, not to do charity.
When they arrive at the lord's village, the other slaves curse Carfin: because
of him, they have all been persecuted by the lord. Costandin finally shows
some feelings for the slave and talks in person to the lady who seduced him.
She is confined in a narrow room and beaten by the lord, who also wants to
lock her up in a convent. She has no problem admitting her guilt (that she
lured Carfin). When the lord finally shows up, Costandin is rewarded with money.
Costandin asks in vain that the lord show mercy for the poor slave. The lord
is indifferent to the fact that his wife has admitted seducing him and marches
towards the terrified slave. The other slaves actually hold him down and help
the lord met out his punishment. Costandin tries one more time to intervene
but the lord has lost patience with him and slaps him in the face. Then the
lord takes a dagger and sets out to castrate Carfin. The other slaves hold him
down and one slave offers the lord a pair of pliers.
Costandin walks Ionita away and tells him to behave like a man.
Inimi Cicatrizate/ Scarred Hearts (2016) is an adaptation of
Max Blecher's novel.
Jude also directed the documentary The Dead Nation (2017).
The Brechtian black comedy Imi Este Indiferent Daca in Istorie vom Intra ca Barbari/ I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians (2018) was a meditation on the revival of fascism and of anti-Semitism in Europe .
Uppercase Print (2020) is an adaptation of Gianina Carbunariu's stage play.
Babardeala cu Bucluc Sau Porno Balamuc/ Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021)
is a surrealistic film-essay, a bit too chaotic, that uses a simple story as a pretext for a rambling philosophical discussion. The film mixes provocative porn scenes, documentary scenes of life in the city, and a montage of historical events,
and ends with three possible endings. It is all done in a cartoonish and goliardic spirit.
The film opens with a hardcore porn scene in which Emi is having sex with Eugen
in front of a camera: they are making a porn video for themselves.
We then see Emi shopping at a vegetable market like any ordinary housewife and walking through the busy streets of the city (the camera lingers on
details of the city, even a plant growing in the cracks of the sidewalk).
She enters the house of her school's headmistress. Everybody is wearing masks during the covid
Emi is a teacher and she discusses with her school's headmistress the scandal: her erotic video has
spread on the Internet and the parents want an urgent meeting.
Emi explains that Eugen uploaded it to the Internet.
We follow Emi again in the streets until she walks into a toy store, where
she witnesses an argument between a poor lady who can't pay for the items
she picked up and a lady who is waiting behind her to pay.
Emi then walks back home and gets into an argument with an arrogant driver
who has parked on the sidewalk and insults her when she complains.
Then we follow her again through the busy and noisy streets.
Her husband calls her that the video has been re-uploaded to the Internet by a blogger.
The camera lingers on commercial and political posters and signs as she walks by them.
Emi walks into a pharmacy and we listen to the discussions of the customers.
She passes by an abandoned decaying building and the camera lingers on the dilapidated facade. She witnesses a heated argument between a pedestrian and a car driver.
She stops to get a coffee in a fancy shopping gallery where young people are discussing history and politics.
Then she walks again in the streets.
The second part of the film opens with documentary footage of World War 2,
colonialism, the 1989 revolution.
We see a military parade, a skit about a blonde, a tour guide and her group
in front of the presidential palace, the video of the dictator's last speech,
snow while we read the legend of Athena, children singing a patriotic song in a square, etc.
The rapid-fire montage includes a woman purchasing a fox fur, an abused child, an erotic magazine, a cartoon, genocides, news about a mind-reading implant,
pictures of Nazi concentration camps, a cemetery, a woman performing fellatio on a man, close-ups of both female and male genitals, magazines covers about Mussolini, an old porn video, a man beating up a gypsy, etc.
The montage ends with a mummy displayed in a casa.
Subtitles complement the images with provocative philosophical thoughts.
The third part of the film opens with the meeting at the school, held outdoors because of the pandemic.
Emi is judged by the parents after they watched the video all together.
The parents are outraged because all their children saw the video.
Emi replies that parents should watch which websites the children access.
The video doesn't show the face of the man, so some of the parents don't even
believe that the man in the video is her husband.
Some are disgusted by oral sex, even with a husband.
She recites an erotic poem of Eminescu, Romania's national poet, that specifically refers to oral sex.
Only one man, Marius, tries to defend her, with philosophical arguments.
Surprisingly, the priest too says that she's innocent because she didn't upload the video.
But the majority thinks that Emi lost her credibility with the children.
During the debate the characters quote sociologists and psychologists at length.
Then someone brings up the fact that Emi taught the children Romania's
responsibility in the massacre of Jews during World War II. The parents
accuse her of spreading "Jewish propaganda".
Parents check their phones and find that the story has already spread to
social media and news websites and lengthy articles are being written, including
fake news that she works as a porn actress in other countries.
The headmistress calls for a vote.
The fourth part of the film consists in
three possible endings. In the first ending the
majority votes not to fire her and the losing minority walks away angry.
One woman gets into a physical fight with Emi after Emi accuses her of having
bribed the authorities to favor her child.
In the second ending the majority votes to fire her and she quietly leaves.
In the third ending the majority votes to fire her, she turns into a devil
(wearing a Wonder Woman costume),
throws a net that catches all the parents, and then forces a plastic penis
in each of her accuser's mouth.