Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
Cristi Puiu, the great Romanian director who astonished audiences with the mesmerising The Death of Mr Lazerescu (NZIFF06), immerses us now in a world bristling with life. An extended family gather for the 40th day memorial meal for a dearly beloved patriarch. Puiu, at once ironic and tender, draws us steadily into a rich appreciation of their fractured, blackly comic universe.
“Romanian New Wave pioneer Cristi Puiu’s Sieranevada is a wild ride despite being set for the majority of its near three-hour runtime in a tiny, cramped apartment. Unfolding over the course of one afternoon as an extended Romanian family crams into a poky flat bristling with cling-film covered dishes of food and simmering resentments, what seems beforehand like its punishing length is wholly justified by Puiu’s generously overlapping approach.
With usually about six things going on in each deceptively clever handheld frame at once, the film never drags. Instead Puiu scoops up storylines and arguments and revelations armful by messy armful and the inexplicably titled Sieranevada becomes by turns pit-of-stomach-sad, flight-of-fancy funny and pin-in-heart moving. And never less than wincingly true in its deadpan acknowledgement of the beautiful absurdity of family life.” — Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
“Not only a masterful portrait of the contemporary Romanian middle-class but also a whole set of smart, perceptive reflections on the relativity of truth, on the failings of memory, the interpretation of history, the significance of religion and much more.” — Dan Fainaru, Screendaily