Sunday, 29 May 2016


I saw Aferim! at the Berlinale last year and the film has stayed with me ever since.  Finally, it is getting the wider release that it deserves.  This remarkable film, directed by the Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude, is set in nineteenth-century Wallachia, a region in what is now Romania but was then part of the Ottoman Empire. The narrative is framed around a policeman and his son who are sent to find a runaway Roma slave and return him to his owner, a boyar (a kind of feudal lord).  The widescreen black and white photography lends the landscapes a vivid verisimilitude and belies the desperate poverty and violence that lurk everywhere.  I can think of no other film that so brilliantly and devastatingly depicts the historical plight of the Roma (and illuminates the contemporary weight of the past).  Aferim! is surely a milestone in European cinema.

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