Romanian Cristian Mungiu, French Olivier Assayas share the best director award at Cannes

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Director Cristian Mungiu won the best director prize for “Bacalaureat/Graduation” feature film at the 69th edition of Cannes International Film Festival on Sunday evening.

Mungiu shared the best director prize with French director Olivier Assayas, for “Personal Shopper”.

Mungiu, who won the Palme d’Or in 2007, was rewarded for his critically-acclaimed “Graduation” about a father’s dilemma of what to tell his daughter about a corrupt world. Assayas’s film, “Personal Shopper” starring Hollywood star Kristen Stewart, got mixed reviews.

His new film Bacalaureat, or Graduation, is a masterly, complex movie of psychological subtlety and moral weight, about the shabby choices people make as they claw their way up: people constrained by loyalty to others who have helped them with wrongdoing, who use those others’ corruption as an alibi for their own failings, and those who hope that the resulting system of shifty back-scratching somehow constitutes an alternative ethical system. But how about the children, those innocent souls for whose sake all this grubbiness has been endured? Should they be preserved from graduating into an infected world of compromise and secret shame?” reads a review by The Guardian three days ago.

Screen actor Adrian Titieni plays the leading part as surgeon, Dr Romeo Aldea, who he has a complicated relationship with his 18-year-old daughter, Eliza, who is preparing to give her graduation exam, bacalaureat in Romanian.

However, the doctor and wife Magda (Lia Bugnar) are extremely proud of Eliza: she has been a stellar pupil and has the offer of a scholarship from a British university to study psychology after graduating from high school, conditional on top marks in her final exams.

The key reversal comes when Aldea gets a call with terrible news. On the day before her exams, Eliza is assaulted: an attempted, unsuccessful rape. She is physically all right, but in no condition to sit a public examination, still less get top marks. So Aldea has to call on a grisly system of favours and quiet words in friendly ears to see if his daughter can somehow be waved through: he is friendly with the school’s exam committee president (Gelu Colceag) and also the hatchet-faced police chief, investigating the assault case, (played by Mungiu regular Vlad Ivanov, who was the abortionist in 4 Months and also had a cameo as a corrupt oil executive in Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann),” according to the above-mentioned review.

“I, Daniel Blake” by British director Ken Loach won the Palme d’Or for Best Pictur, after having already won the highest distinction in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”.


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