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Under Communist Rule: Cristi Puiu’s “La Saint-André des loups” Set for Spring Shoot

Under Communist Rule: Cristi Puiu’s “La Saint-André des loups” Set for Spring Shoot

Pre-pandemic, Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu had been working on “Hora staccato,” set in May 1950 Bucharest, where police rounded up dignitaries and imprisoned them. We now learn that this project may have been pushed aside or evolved into a psychological thriller titled La Saint-André des loups, set against the backdrop of 1940s Communist and Nazi-occupied Romania. The Romania-France co-production is set to begin next Spring. The Bord Cadre Films folks (who backed Malmkrog) are once again in the Puiu business. At this point the film is finding some coin and will likely find more producing partners. Puiu’s last feature MMXX was selected for the San Sebastián International Film Festival last year – here is our review:

Puiu’s set-up feels similar to some of his previous offerings, particularly 2013’s Three Exercises of Interpretation, but with the sinister elements and criticisms which underlined titles like The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) and Aurora (2010), while the audience is similarly challenged in tracing the connections between these various people a la 2016’s Sieranevada. How we’re supposed to feel about this handful of characters, stuck in a historical intersection most probably will not be eager to revisit, isn’t exactly apparent, other than the impression of each cemented by their own self-absorbed grappling with a world they are no longer able to navigate in a way they’re accustomed to. In many ways, MMXX bears a certain kinship with Kira Muratova’s 1989 agonizing masterwork, The Asthenic Syndrome, a film straddling the end of the Soviet Union and the beginning of a new world order, where endless squabbling amidst a civilization in free-fall suggests the actual act of existence is itself an eroding disease.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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