New York Film Festival Preview: Beyond the Hills

(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiJRGbCKCu0]

Screenings:

Monday, October 1, 9pm (Alice Tully Hall)

Sunday, October 7, 2:30pm (Alice Tully Hall)

Thursday, October 11, 3:30pm (Howard Gilman Theater)

Venue: Lincoln Center, NYC

Series: NYFF50: Main Slate

Voichita and Alina, childhood friends who were raised in the same orphanage, are reunited in the hills of Romania after years of separation. Voichita is a nun in training, living in a pious monastery in the hills without electricity or any other conveniences of modern life. Alina is returning from Germany, where she’s spent the last several years. Feeling anxious and alone, Alina is determined to convince her best friend to return to Germany with her, but Voichita is not the same girl. She’s found God and is under the watchful eye of the resident priest and patriarch of the monastery, simply known as Papa. Alina decides to stay, in hopes that she will be able to persuade her friend to leave the monastery. Things go awry for everyone there once Alina begins to display erratic behaviors, threatening the resident nuns and priest and forcing them to take action.

Beyond the Hills is a serious drama (make no mistake about it) by award-winning Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu, whose heralded 2007 feature 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Though his latest offering failed to capture that same prize earlier this year, it did win him the award for Best Screenplay, as well as won the Best Actress prize, which was shared by the two leads in their debut performances, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur. The film is inspired by a true story, though Mungiu admits to taking considerable liberties in its telling. The scope of the movie is quite expansive, as is indicated by its 150-minute runtime, but the drama that unfolds on screen is captivating and the two leads deliver stunning performances—Stratan (as Voichita) with her quiet and steadfast sensibilities, and Flutur (as Alina) with her “raging” and equally steadfast stubbornness. Beyond the Hills is Romania’s official 2012 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, and given its dramatic and controversial subject matter and previous awards success, is currently considered a front-runner for a nomination.

Limité Rating: 4/5

Director: Cristian Mungiu

Genres: Narrative, Drama

Country: Romania (Beyond the Hills is Romania’s official 2012 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film)

Language: Romanian with English subtitles

Runtime: 150 min.

Note: Cristian Mungiu will be participating in a free conversation, courtesy of NYFF Live on Tuesday, October 9 at 8pm in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater, located in Lincoln Center at 144 W. 65th St., NYC.

The 50th New York Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 14, 2012.

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