Cristi Puiu Poster

Quotes (31)

  • 10 years ago I suddenly decided to make films after I discovered John Cassavetes and 'Direct Cinema', and these kinds of documentaries, Frederick Wiseman and Raymond Depardon and so on. I would say my film is an expression of the way I understand their work. And the way I understand how to make films as well, because I am following in their footsteps. Step by step, I am interested in going further to discover things they couldn't discover in their own work.[2006]
  • [on Moartea domnului Lãzãrescu (2005)] I don't think I can give you the right answer, just a supposition which is related to a François Truffaut quote: "A film has to tell us something about life and something about cinema." So this is what I think: the film contains a vision of life - the story about a human being who dies alone, surrounded by the indifference of the others - and a vision of cinema. For me, cinema is less an art form than a technique for investigating reality. And this is not a Romanian tale, but a tale from Romania.[2006]
  • My main influences come from Romanian literature and poetry, artists that have influenced me in general. One is Eugène Ionesco and his Theatre of the Absurd. The others are two poets whom I'd call "the poets of the silent despair," George Bacovia and Virgil Mazilescu. From universal literature and art I found some other models such as Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. My conception of cinema is the result of the "lessons" I got from the authors above and the discovery of the works of John Cassavetes, Frederick Wiseman, Éric Rohmer, and Raymond Depardon.[2006]
  • I think that every human being has friends and enemies. I am like everyone else and this model applies to the movies I make: some people like them and some others don't. And this is okay. What is really great in filmmaking (and in art, in general) is that people you have never met, from another corner of the world and a different culture, can write about your film and really get it. They understand every detail of your film, your point of view, your philosophy, your pain. You read the review and your fear of death starts to diminish. I call those people potential friends. Being asked so many times for whom I am making films, I'll answer now (and to you, too, even if you didn't ask me this): I make films for myself, for my friends, and for my potential friends.[2006]
  • People call me a film director now. And before I started doing this I was a painter. And I think it is stupid in both cases. It's hard for me to believe in this. I enjoy this activity, but it is very hard for me to start because I am questioning the roots, the basis of this activity. What is the point of making films or telling stories? There are too many stories already, and all these stories are the same. Well, maybe the point is to tell the same story differently. There is a character in Franz Kafka's "The Trial", a painter called Titorelli, who paints dozens of paintings of a tree in the middle of a field. So I agree with him: what is the point of making films? But you have to do something, and making films is a part of life as much as teaching people or being a policeman or a doctor. But if you are questioning the foundations of any human activity as Eugène Ionesco did, relating this to God as he did, then everything disappears. Everything loses its sense, so I agree with Ionesco. At the same time, he did write.[2006]
  • [on his planned 'Six Stories From The Bucharest Suburbs'] Ultimately, I really want to get six films that evoke this period of time with a strong and important documentary dimension. I am searching now for Romanian films made in the Seventies and Eighties. I was born in 1967, so this period of time is very important to me. Romania has changed a lot. It is very hard to find images of old Bucharest in Romanian fiction. From time to time you can see a corner of the university square or the royal palace, old cars and tramways and things like this. And when I see them, I become very nostalgic. It moves me a lot when I see this-even if the film is stupid. (...) People, cars, buildings - they move me a lot. I would like to get important parts of Bucharest in my films. This film was Bucharest by night, but I want to shoot the next one during the day with exteriors and open space.[2006]
  • [on Aurora (2010)] Remember that I am a storyteller and one of the first lessons of cinema is that it is an art of ellipsis. In this film, I didn't hide things. I observed and then kept just moments that I thought were revelatory for the story I'm going to tell.[2010]
  • Usually when you're delivering your story and you're honest with yourself, your message can't be clear. You must stay within a perimeter of facts and allow the audience to play the role of the detective.[2010]
  • Cinema is an instrument for investigating the real, for investigating life. OK, so there's another question that arises, which is: why fiction films? It's because fictions come from our minds. And so they're like evidence - evidence of a certain way of thinking about the world. The camera isn't moving accidentally; there's an intention. So cinema can be a kind of anthropological device for you to look at the world outside yourself and the world inside yourself, inside your head, which fiction films allow you to do.[2010]
  • [on recurring characters in Moartea domnului Lãzãrescu (2005) and Aurora (2010)] It's important to point out that she's one of the doctors in Moartea domnului Lãzãrescu (2005) - it's the same Gina from that film. And Pusa's [Viorel's mother] next-door neighbor is the nurse from the ambulance in "Lazarescu". It's not just the same actress. And I wanted this nurse to have her own 'Mr. Lazarescu' at home - the old man who offers Viorel the drink. When I started my ongoing project, "Six Stories from the Bucharest Suburbs", I wanted to be inside a construction in the manner of Honoré de Balzac. Or like François Truffaut: Baisers volés (1968), L'amour en fuite (1979). And Viorel's upstairs neighbor, the woman, is another nurse from "Lazarescu". I wanted to mix these two films about death (one man receiving death, the other giving death).[2010]
  • [on Aurora (2010)] I suppose finally the political statement of the film is that in order to survive, to get along with others, you have to negotiate and make compromises. In the artistic domain, it's regarded as the worst thing. All the heroes we take as models are uncompromising and this is the fascist dimension of the thing. Viorel is like this. He's the one who's going to impose his philosophy on the world without negotiation. In order to live inside a community, you have to make compromises and concede things. And you have to somehow be confirmed by the institutions of the state, education first of all. It's an important question you ask and I realize that it could possibly be an answer to all the killings. An individual who is really stuck in his own philosophy, who isn't flexible or supple enough to make compromises, may end up killing somebody, killing himself, or leaving the community. So telling this story involves looking at some extreme answers to the question of how life in a community is possible.[2010]
  • From time to time people disappear behind walls. You hear or you don't hear, you see or you don't see. Your condition as a human being imposes certain restrictions on what can be understood. We don't have two-way vision like a chicken does! There's that statement from Rudolf Arnheim in his "Film as Art" that a filmmaker is obliged to choose things from reality and if you choose one thing you don't choose something else. If you point the camera in this direction, you are going to lose what's happening behind the camera. This is the condition of the filmmaker. So I decided for every scene to have one shot from a very precise position-not in order to expose everything to camera, but to cover the space logically. If someone has to go from the armchair in the living room to the toilet, then maybe you can still get something from the sound of the flush. Cinema allows you to do this, to vary elements in order to build up the cinematographic sentence. I don't know if I've succeeded in this but the statement I want to make is that life is more important than cinema. I think that life is more important than cinema.[2010]
  • [on Aurora (2013)] I told the cameraman to observe and to stop thinking of composition. (...) The only cameramen that can observe are those doing documentaries. They are the ones that look at people.
  • I can't carry a camera around with myself all the time, but everything we see everyday has a human logic. It's wonderful! So just look around yourself and then try and reconstruct step by step what you saw. The result will be a proposition, a question. If a film does not turn into a question, it is wrong because it tries to manipulate.[2011]
  • It is most important to confess, to tell the truth.[2006]
  • [on Italian Neorealism and the Romanian New Wave] In any way, to run away from the past is very human, but so is the need to say the truth. To put the camera into society and make films like La terra trema (1948) or Paisà (1946) for example was necessary for the people who made these films. But it's not everybody's need. Most Italians didn't feel the urge to look at themselves and were against these films. They didn't want to see Ladri di biciclette (1948). It's the same here. I can't stand it anymore. People say we're destroying Romania's image. But what is that supposed to mean? When I was in Vienna with my first film, a Romanian came up to me and asked why I didn't film the mountains: "Our country is beautiful"! I don't make films for tourists.[2011]
  • My whole thinking is always how to make the most with modest means.[2006]
  • You have to do research and turn yourself into a visual anthropologist.[2011]
  • I'm not a purist, but I try to eliminate all the remnants of literature, theater or music. I like films with music, like Hitchcock for example, Alfred Hitchcock wouldn't work without music. But I can't put music in my films. I did it in one scene in Aurora (2010) just for the ironic effect, I played a part of Dmitri Shostakovich's composition for Grigoriy Kozintsev's Hal Lear. It's complicated, why do I accept music in Hitchcock's films, but not in mine? It's the same with voice-over, I think voice-over is a literary not a cinematographic device, but there are films where I don't mind voice-over. There is nothing more admirable than Godard's voice-over in Bande à part (1964).[2011]
  • I try to use lenses that don't deform the image, but that are close to what we see in real life.[2011]
  • We are confronted with fictions everyday. I experienced the fall of communism in 1989. We assassinated Ceausescu [Nicolae Ceausescu] on December 25. We could have assassinated him on the 24 or the 26. But we are too attached to fictions, so we had to assassinate him on Christmas. Or when we demonstrated for months in front of the university, the news on television told us that we were bought by western agents with jeans, drugs, and Coca-Cola. We live in a cosmic fiction and we can't get out. [2011]
  • I wanted to tell Aurora (2010) in an elliptic way. Every cut is an ellipse. It was very important to show that this story was born in my head. I thus tried to eliminate transitions and links to show the fragmentary character of the process of thinking. I was very influenced by Rudolf Arnheim's "Film as Art" where he says that the filmmaker "can choose his motive".[2011]
  • The only obligation an actor has, is to be.[2011]
  • Metaphors are arrogant. They are not dangerously arrogant, but they are still arrogant. Real metaphors, metaphors that are told by someone who sees, are no metaphors. There is no point in fabricating metaphors. Signs are everywhere. Everything is there, you just have to open your eyes. The moment you fabricate, you are using the same mechanism of someone trying to demonstrate a truth. You think that only your mind exists, and that only your mind is capable of producing some unique vision. I think it is enough to witness. If your testimony is real, then your film will reveal enough truths that you yourself did not see.[2011]
  • I tried to make a list once with my ten favorite films, but then I ended up with over 200. But under the first were: 1. La maman et la putain (1973) - Eustache, 2. Angst essen Seele auf (1974) - Fassbinder, 3. Ma nuit chez Maud (1969) - Rohmer, Bande à part (1964) - Godard, 5. Mouchette (1967) - Bresson.[2011]
  • John Cassavetes said that when you make a film, you have to start off telling yourself that you don't know anything. For Cassavetes, making films is an attempt to understand something, it's research.[2011]
  • [on Marfa si banii (2001)] Romania helped me to feel like a stranger. When I returned to Romania [from Switzerland] in 1996, I wasn't part of a group. So when I wanted to produce my film, they said it's worthless arguing that the Swiss never made films. Only when I won that prize they started to look at me differently. My first film didn't have any success in Romania, they even tried to ban the film because of the language. But with prizes came peace.
  • Cinema is a laboratory. Cinema is science. Scientists work very much like filmmakers. Filmmakers use cinema as a tool, like a scientist's instrument. They ask questions about human existence, human nature, and the world. The camera is an anthropological instrument.[2011]
  • [on Aurora (2010)] I based the script on the principles of 'Direct Cinema' and documentaries, in which what is filmed is raw material. During the shoot we improvised quite a few things; the film was really constructed in the editing room. We had footage for a five hour film, two hours of which we threw out. The result is an organic structure. An author will select the details he thinks are significant according to his sensibility, his cultural background, or the things that shape his own perception and thought.[2010]
  • [explaining the emergence of the Romanian New Wave] I think it's obvious. What happened was I got this prize in Cannes [for Moartea domnului Lãzãrescu (2005)], and then lots of directors saw that, and it pushed this style - Direct Cinema, Romanian Realism, Neo-Realism, Black Realism, whatever you want to call it. Because I made a movie in 2001 [Marfa si banii (2001)] and no one copied that. [2016]
  • [on the examination of truth in Sieranevada (2016)] I think it's very serious what's happening. We need to rely on some kind of truth. And you look around and it's impossible to find. We keep saying this is truth, and we keep on forgetting and letting ourselves choose the comfortable way, and don't ask ourselves questions that put our own decisions in the discussion and not the decisions of others. We tend to believe 'this is what happened on 9/11/2001 in the United States' but know nothing about what's happening next door. This is a kind of illusion, a way of escaping real responsibilities. [2016]