TALENT PRESS 2013: Irina Trocan

There are many ways of understanding films beyond the aesthetic of the New Romanian Cinema, with its international acclaim and revolutionary aesthetic. My role as a critic is to recognize as many of these forms and be able to describe them eloquently.

Irina Trocan

In Romania, first came the valuable films, then came equally worthy criticism. The New Romanian Cinema has been touring film festivals worldwide since the 2001 success of Cristi Puiu’s STUFF AND DOUGH in Cannes. By now, its then-revolutionary aesthetic — a seemingly plot-less script rendered through an unemphatic direction — is history, literally. It has become the subject of an excellent PhD thesis in film theory, and young film directors are trying to take it a step further or work their way around it. I’m not implying that the mainstream audience got tired of it and demanded something more innovative—most Romanian spectators didn’t even give it a chance; they wanted the same old stories. The New Romanian Cinema is for international cinephiles.

When THE DEATH OF MR. LĂZĂRESCU came out, I was in my teens. I watched it, but I was too young to fully appreciate it. For me, the observational aesthetic of Cristi Puiu – the camera as an instrument of investigating reality – was something that my elders talked about. I think it’s valid as a point of view, and it’s given birth to masterpieces, but there are many other ways of understanding cinema.

My role as a critic is to recognize as many of these forms and be able to describe them eloquently. I let this belief guide me in my training and in my writing. I take explaining other people’s films quite personally, because I think it’s unfair that artistic ambition often goes unnoticed, and having discovered criticism in the wake of some amazing films, I’ve seen how hard it is to open the viewers’ appetite to something new. Somebody has to challenge them if we don’t want innovations to be a thing of the past, and I, as a native contrarian, feel that I’m fit for the job. Little wonder, then, that truly valuable criticism, like crime, and art, doesn’t pay – but they all go against the established order. To defend a film which doesn’t look impressive upon first glance takes perceptiveness, clarity of thought and a great deal of courage. Everything else is PR.