Friday, November 15
(1992, Lucian Pintilie) Journeying through a hellish landscape, a schoolteacher flees oppressive Ceausescu-era Bucharest with her father’s ashes in tow. Darkly absurdist road movie, the most acclaimed 90s Romanian film. New 4K DCP restoration. Approx. 102 min.
The new 4K restoration has been made with the support of Fundația9 Romania through the Lucian Pintilie Cinema Fund.
“[The Oak] is Mr. Pintilie’s reaction to the 1989 collapse of the Communist regime in his country and his expectations for the future. It begins as a nightmare and ends with a vague expectation of the break of day… Mr. Pintilie seems to suggest that there is still hope for Romania, though it’s not just around the corner.”
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times
“This relentlessly bleak farce is a movie of imaginative hysteria that rattles with sustained fury. Set in the final years of Ceaucescu's dictatorship, Lucian Pintilie begins The Oak in Bucharest with his hand-held camera finding the inhabitants of one particularly filthy sty watching home movies of Christmas past. The projected image—a little girl unmasking the Securitate man dressed as Santa and grabbing his gun to pretend to shoot the jovial bigwigs at a power elite party—is flanked by all manner of domestic detritus. The child in the home movie has apparently grown into the fabulously unkempt Nela, electrifyingly played by Maia Morgenstern, who lurches around the apartment, fussing over her decrepit father, a veteran Communist and Securitate colonel… As breathless as a fiddle break in a Romanian doina, The Oak swirls around before ending with the greatest atrocity of all.”
– J. Hoberman, The Village Voice