Comparing Waves. Cultural and Aesthetic Similarities between Recent Romanian and Hungarian Cinemas

Doru Pop


This paper addresses the issues of cultural identity and aesthetic specificity, as manifested in cinema-making practices of the Romanian and Hungarian recent films. The main questions are if the Romanian film makers tell different stories from their neighboring colleagues, or if the contemporary movies are showing similarities, which allows us to describe related tropes and even shared imaginaries. This paper is discussing those Romanian and Hungarian films and directors that had a major impact, using authors like like Cristi Puiu, Cristian Mungiu or Radu Jude and their counterparts in the region like Károly Ujj Mészáros, Kornel Mundruczo or Nemes László. The author raises the problem of a possible and impossible cinematic dialogue between these two cinema cultures by asking if we can talk about an East European cinema style, or can we identify a shared film tradition of regional cinemas (when it comes to Romania and Hungary) and if there is a larger trend that influences the cinematic expression. Another aspect would be the discussion of cultural strategies in the two countries, and how did these impact the development of their particular film industry, film consumption and film reception. In the same time, the EU integration of the two countries has created similar problems, with dissimilar solutions, as the cultural similarities and the transition from a homogenized cinema of the Socialist era lead to transformations that have influenced separately the two cultural environments. Finally the problem is if there can be a “Romanian style” of making movies opposed to a “Hungarian way” to film art, or if contemporary Hungarian and Romanian cinemas are part of a European mode of representation?

Keywords: national cinema, regional cinema, Eastern and Central European waves, film styles and film schools

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.18.1