Tips from a master - jury president Mungiu shares experience
Cristian Mungiu, president of this year’s Golden Goblet Award jury panel. Pic by CFP
By Liza Li
Cristian Mungiu, president of this year’s Golden Goblet Award jury panel and the first Romanian director to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, held a masterclass yesterday to share his experience and understanding of filmmaking.
“For the story to be clear to somebody else, it needs to be clear for you,” he said in explaining the most important step in developing a story is to organize the ideas and structure.
Born in Iasi, Romania, Mungiu studied English and Romanian languages and worked as a teacher and a journalist. He later enrolled in the University of Film in Bucharest to study directing.
His career in the film industry started with several short films. His first feature film, “Occident” in 2002, was praised by critics and won prizes at film festivals, including being featured in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival in 2002.
Mungiu’s success as a storyteller is widely recognized. His second feature, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” was a major success. It was selected in the official competition at Cannes in 2007 and won the Palme d’Or for feature film.
Mungiu noted that cinema is one of the few arts where "time" matters a lot: cinema can depict how time passes, but on condition that the storyteller respects the natural flow of time.
“I respect the integrity of every moment, I won’t interrupt it," he said at the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival yesterday.
"Once you interrupt a scene and a moment, you are sending a message to the audience that it’s me telling you what’s important, i.e. I will show you the best perspective for everything because I know better.”
Mungiu used the first scene in his film “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” as an example. It consisted of the first shots he did on set, respecting the chronological order of the screenplay.
Shooting is a long process, he explained, and everyone changes during the process. The actors change through real events that happen during the filming as well as by gaining more knowledge of the characters. He added it's useful to give them the freedom to become a little more like the character by following the order of the screenplay.
“One of the problems I see in cinema nowadays is that the writers use a lot of time writing dialogue that people don’t use a real life," he said. "For me it’s a key thing to be able to write dialogue which looks like real conversation between real people.”
In casting the actors and actresses for his films, Mungiu said he chooses people who are close in looks to the characters and are like everyday people you would see on the street. He likes to work with people who haven’t worked in films because of their "freshness."
“I want my cinema to be truthful ... it’s more important than being popular," he said. "I want people to watch what I am uncompromisingly proposing to them."