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Romanian film of sex and aggression in the city wins Berlinale

BERLIN —  The Romanian director Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, a sexually explicit dark comedy of the everyday aggression experienced by a teacher in contemporary Bucharest, won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear award.

Judges hailed the film, starring Katia Pascariu as the teacher whose private sex tape is leaked, triggering a witch hunt by parents of the children at her school, as a “lasting art work” that “attacked” the viewer.

“It captures on screen the very content and essence, the mind and body, the values and raw flesh of our present moment in time,” Israeli director and jury member Nadav Lapid said announcing the award.

Other prizewinners at this year’s online Berlinale included German actress Maren Eggert, who played a woman resisting a perfect android’s charms in I’m Your Man and Hungary’s Denes Nagy, awarded best director for the war movie Natural Light.

The overall winner opens with a lengthy shot of Ms. Pascariu having sex in porn style and continues showing the dozens of aggressive acts she deals with running errands in Romania’s frenetic capital.

Irritable shopkeepers, swearing car drivers, strident advertising hoardings, and the Romanian Orthodox Church all attract the film’s gaze.

“I wanted to show as much as possible the values of the community through the tissues of the city,” Mr. Jude told an online news conference —  a chaotic 1920s cityscape by German expressionist painter Nikolaus Braun as his background image. “How the buildings are, the culture of parking —  all these things say a lot about the values,” he added.

Shot in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the film shows almost every character wearing a mask, but the viewer is left with the sense that the poison people inject into their own environment is as destructive as any virus.

The film culminates in a grotesque tribunal composed of the middle-class parents of pupils at the elite school where Ms. Pascariu teaches. Paragons of virtue, they carefully scrutinize her sex tape before passing judgment.

Producer Ada Solomon acknowledged the film would have to be censored for its most explicit scenes for wider distribution, but questioned the values that made this necessary.

“Violence is accepted, nudity not,” she said. “I wonder why that is?”

Festival organizers hope to show this year’s films in cinemas at a live follow-up event in June, pandemic permitting. — Reuters

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