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Cristian Mungiu Talks Not Cutting Cannes Winner 'Beyond the Hills,' New Poster, EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 31, 2013 at 1:49PM

The rare and glorious 35 mm "Beyond the Hills," which won the best actress prize at Cannes for its two non-pro leads, plays too long for many who expect conventional pacing and don't accept Mungiu's rigorous aesthetic, which requires that he not cut within a scene. He can trim the front or the back, but not the middle.

And this isn't light subject matter. Mungiu found a 2005 newspaper report of a woman who died strapped to a wooden cross during an exorcism and asked, "How is this possible?" He made up his own story about two young women in love, one who has seen the world since she left the tough orphanage where they comforted each other, and a second who lives safe within a nunnery run by a radical priest. The worldly girl tries to save the cloistered one, by trying to break through the barriers around her friend, mental, spiritual and physical. But everyone treats her as if she is crazy, even possessed by the Devil. 

"The film is trying to help you understand why they were like this," says Mungiu. "It's important not to blame them without understanding them." This style of filmmaking "requires patience from the audience because it doesn't have the regular logic of film, it needs to accumulate a lot of details you need before judgement happens."

That said, Mungiu is open to figuring out a new aesthetic going forward: "Later on I want to understand what is my idea of cinema." Whatever he decides, I'm there. This guy is the real deal.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, Cristian Mungiu, Interviews, Interviews , Beyond The Hills, Awards, Awards, Oscars

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.