Christian Mungiu’s film “RMN” at the Cannes Film Festival takes place in an unnamed mountainous Transylvanian village in Romania, but the conflicts of ethnocentrism, racism and nationalism that pervade the multiethnic city can take place almost anywhere.
Of all the films vying for the top prize of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, none at the moment can be like “RMN”. The film uses the Romanian microcosm and depicts the battles between us and them that took place across Europe. and further, wherever immigration and national identity collided.
Mungiu, the famous Romanian director of the iconic 2007 drama about abortion “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days”, has long been accustomed to having his films written off as grim portraits of distant Eastern Europe. This is a caricature that he rejects, especially when it comes to “RMN”
“Every time journalists explain that this is another gloomy picture of this country, well, it’s not about this country – or not just about it,” Munjiu told reporters on Sunday. “It’s good to test your elections in your countries.”
When a local bakery needs workers – most of the city has gone abroad in search of work – it employs several men from Sri Lanka, and the already complex mix of Romanian village ethnic groups – Romanians, Hungarians and Germans – becomes increasingly volatile.
But “RMN,” which features a 17-minute single shot of the controversial city assembly, raises from the outset the question of who exactly is an outsider and who can define tradition. After all, you could say even the local bears of the village.
“What is tradition? We do something because someone has done it before. But why do we do it?” Munjiu said, “If you dig deep, it’s a way to fight the fear that you have. It’s a way to release those violent impulses that you have.”
“I’m sorry to say this, but we are a very, very cruel species of animal. And we need very, very little to identify the enemy as another, ”Munjiu added. “It can be seen today in the war in Ukraine.”
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