The film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days beat 21 others to snatch the golden trophy at a glittering ceremony marking the end of the fes- tival’s 60th edition.
Cristian Mungiu, director of the winning movie, accepted the Palme d’Or on stage from 69-year-old US actor Jane Fonda, who spoke in French.
“It looks a little bit to me like (a) fairytale,” Mungiu said, adding that the triumph showed “you don’ t necessarily need big budgets and big stars to make stories”.
His film evokes the big themes of personal freedom and political repression through a wrenching story about a girl’s illegal, backstreet abortion in communist-era Romania.
Made on a budget of €590,000, the film was pro- duced by Mobra Films and Saga Film with financing from the Romanian National Centre for Cinematography, public television and the Hubert Bals Fund.
Born in Iasi, Romania, in 1968, Cristian Mungiu graduated from the University of Iasi with a degree in English and American Literature. For a period, he worked as an English language teacher, newspaper journalist, and radio/TV journalist and entertainer. In 1998, Cristian Mungiu graduated from the Academy for Theatre and Film in Bucharest. His graduation film, “The Hand of Paulista”, represented Romania at the student Oscar awards in 1999. Cristian Mungiu made three other shorts: “Nothing by Chance”, “The Firemen’s Choir” and “Zapping”, all of them well-received at international festivals; “Zapping” was also screened in 2003 by Ca- nal+. His first feature, “Occident”, had its international pre- miere at Quainzaine des Realisateurs in Cannes, 2002. The film was a big hit in Romania; it also won 10 international awards, including The Audience Award in Tessalonik, The Fipresci Critics Award in Sofia and awards for best film in Leeds, Mons, Annonay and Cluj. Cristian Mungiu also worked as assistant director for several foreign films shot in Romania: “Capitaine Conan” (by Bertrand Tavernier), “Train de Vie” (by Radu Mihaileanu), and “Beowulf” (by Graham Baker). Besides filmmaking, Cristian Mungiu is also very active in literary circles: his first book, “Cristian Mungiu: 7 screenplays” was published at Liternet Publishing House in 2002.
Cristian Mungiu said concerning his intentions: “I didn’t want to make a film about abortion or communism; I think that my film goes beyond that. There are allusions to communism such as in the scene over a meal. Abortion is a good example of the influence propaganda and education had on us, even if we didn’t realize it at the moment.”
“The screenplay starts from the kind of per- sonal experience that people usually don’t share with others. It is the story of conse- quences that are more often untold, even hid- den, but common to many. Above all it is an abortion story from a period of time when such an act was an act of protest against a regime which sought to impose discipline by banning abortion.”