Films Romania

Films Romania: 10 Films set in Romania

Films about Romania and Romanian cinema , set in this wonderful Eastern European country, are the fruit of local history, but also of international productions. Thanks to its magnificent landscapes and monuments, legends and history, Romania is perfect as a location . Here, we find unique landscapes and a folklore that has always inspired international cinema , as well as literature. Furthermore, today Romanian cinema has also become a means of promoting the culture of a people and redeeming itself from the past. Let’s discover the best films set here, getting inspired for our next trip to Romania!

Top 10 Romanian Movies

The films shot in Romania are the result of the places , history and traditions of the country. Romanian cinema and the first films set in Romania boast a rich past, which begins with the dawn of cinema itself. In Bucharest , in fact, the first screenings were in 1896 and, in 1900, the first Romanian film, Amor fatal, was produced . At the beginning of the 20th century, Romanian cinema was concentrated on dramas and documentaries, in this period we also find filmmakers such as Deleanu , the father of the country’s cinema, and Caragiale , who adapts classic works of Romanian literature to the big screen. From the 60s to the 70s we see the golden age of films about Romania, influenced by the French New Wave . Romanian films of the period explore social and political themes , with a critical and real approach.

From this movement, the films Drepturi ale omului and Repaus obtain worldwide recognition. From 1989, with the fall of the communist regime , production fell due to the economic crisis, re-emerging from 2000. From this moment on, directors gave new life to Romanian cinema, also renewing the style and the complex and current themes. Today, famous Romanian cinema and films have an active and diverse production, boasting international festivals, such as the Transylvania one in Cluj-Napoca and the Bucharest International Film Festival . So let’s go and discover the best Romanian films to watch and set in Romania, dreaming with the magic of cinema!

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1. Over the Hills

We begin our recommendations on Romanian cinema and films set in Romania with Beyond the Hills (2012), by Cristian Mungiu. Furthermore, this Romanian film is based on real events that happened in eastern Romania, in the Holy Trinity Convent of Tanaco . Here, in 2005, a 23-year-old nun was crucified , believed to be possessed by the devil. The protagonists of the film are Alina and Voichita , who grew up together in an orphanage. Voichita was welcomed into the local monastery, while Alina was adopted and then moved to Germany to work. However, Alina decides to return to her hometown, to bring her friend with her, the only person she loves. Voichita, however, is reluctant to leave her religious community, which offers her certainties and security .

His refusal leads Alina to an internal crisis , which leads to a collapse that will land her in the psychiatric ward. Once out, she is taken back to the monastery, to which she donates all her few possessions. Failure to reconcile relationships with her friend, however, will lead her to damage the sacred place and its holy images. Furthermore, she sets fire to the monastery cell in which she is locked up. She is fortunately saved, but her reaction leads the nuns and the priest to believe that the girl is possessed … Inspired by real news events, this film about Romania is also an intense philosophical parable , with the cruelty of a thriller, taking us into a remote place on the border with Moldova.

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Beyond the hills

2. Wild animals

Award-winning film by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu, Wild Animals (2022) is a simple story, apparently, but with a profound meaning. Matthias , the protagonist, is the antihero par excellence, someone who doesn’t think too much before acting. The film is set entirely in a small village in Transylvania , rural Romania. Here we find the crossroads of Romanians, Germans, Roma and Hungarians, where the Roma feel a strong hostility towards their people. The mountains have been defaced by mining, bears and many other wild animals live in the woods. Matthias, shortly before Christmas, returns to Transylvania to the village where he was born, leaving Germany and his job. Here he returns for Rudi , his son who he would like to take care of more closely, who has fallen prey to childhood fears.

Furthermore, he is worried about Otto , his elderly father, and wants to get closer to Csilla , his lover in the past. Furthermore, Csilla manages the bakery that employs the whole village and she hires some Sri Lankan workers. The gesture breaks the apparent peace of the community. Everyone’s conflicts, passions and fears will soon explode with violence . This destruction, in truth, had already been hatched for a long time by the small community, showing aggression towards those who are different and intolerance . A Romanian film with a political message towards contemporary and rigorous Europe, as well as being realistic and showing reality with an allegory.

wild animals - romania films set in Romanian cinema
Wild animals

3. A father, a daughter

In addition to social films, in Romanian cinema and the films set here we also find detective stories , such as A Father, a Daughter (2016), by Cristian Mungiu. Set in Transylvania , in a small province, the doctor Romeo places all the expectations of his life on Eliza, his daughter. Eliza is just a good student at the moment, but her father really hopes that, by getting a scholarship, she can go to study in London , thus living out her career and future away from Romania. In the past, Romeo and his wife managed to emigrate , returning to the country following the fall of communism , hoping for a change which, however, they still do not see today.

After all, he is just a father who wants to prevent his daughter from making her mistakes, a man of the past and of other times. Romeo also seeks affection in the arms of a lover. When Eliza’s school career worsens due to an unexpected event , her father feels obliged to ask for help from the city’s authoritative figures, thus helping his daughter to obtain the scholarship anyway… Prominent film of the Romanian New Wave and set in Romania that we recommend. Here, the masterful dialogues are in command, with a hyper-realistic and precise style.

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A father, a daughter

4. Black Sea

There are also international directors who have decided to set their films in Romania, thus also looking at Romanian culture from a different perspective and through cinema. An example of this is Mar Nero (2008) by Federico Bondi. The protagonists of this story are Gemma , an elderly Italian widow, and Angela , a young Romanian girl who recently arrived in Italy who acts as her carer . Angela’s husband remained in Romania and, before long, the women became close friends. Angela, however, one day learns of her husband’s disappearance and, obviously, her desire is to return to her homeland to look for him and understand what happened.

Gemma doesn’t want to be alone any longer and, therefore, the two women leave together on this search. An intelligent and courageous film set in Romania, which leaves clichés aside to talk about the realism of a story of solidarity between women and immigration , observed from a lower-middle-class perspective. Furthermore, the director stated that this film was born from an autobiographical experience , observing the relationship between his grandmother and her caregiver, a young Romanian girl.

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© – Mar Nero

5. 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

Romanian cinema and films set in the country also show us the dramas of society. This happens in the Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007), also by Cristian Mungiu. Furthermore, this film about Romania has as its backdrop the end of the Ceaușescu regime and was highly appreciated by international critics. In 1987, Otilia and Găbița , provincial girls, share a room in a university hostel. By mistake, Găbița becomes pregnant and thus begins their ordeal to search, illegally, for a way to have an abortion . In fact, in 1966 Ceaușescu banned abortion and contraceptives , declaring that the fetus is the property of the state!

Furthermore, women were placed under the supervision of the menstrual police , obliged to undergo monthly gynecological checks and each pregnancy was monitored from the moment of conception. If the child was not born, the woman ended up on trial and even in prison. Because of this law, infant mortality increased in Romania, due to poverty, and concentration camp orphanages were created . Thanks to Bebe , the two women find a way to have an abortion, but the money isn’t enough and Bebe threatens them. Otilia sacrifices herself for her friend in front of her blackmail , putting their friendship before her. This film was mainly set in Bucharest and Ploiești in Romania, showing a side of communist Romanian history through cinema.

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© – 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days

6. Watcher

Furthermore, among the international films set in Romania that we would like to recommend to you, we also find horror films , thus catering to all cinematic tastes. Watcher (2022), is a Chloe Okuno film shot mainly in Bucharest. Julia , an American, moves with her husband Francis to Bucharest , where she has accepted a new job. In the new apartment building they move into in Romania, Julia immediately notices a man staring at her from across the street. Since she spends a lot of time alone, Julia begins to learn about the city and Romanian, but the man at her window watches her every day. Meanwhile, the local media broadcast the news of a serial killer wandering around the city, the Spider , who beheads women.

One day, while Julia is walking through the city, she feels she is being followed by a man and, to throw him off her trail, she enters a cinema, but the man sits behind her and she decides to flee, entering a market. Francis, upon returning home, finds Julia distraught and they return together to the market to see the footage from the surveillance cameras, but Francis is not convinced that it is a case of stalking. Only in her neighbor, Irina , does Julia find comfort. Julia decides to challenge the man at the window, calling the police with Francis and they go to him, discovering that he is Daniel Weber . In the following days, it is Julia who begins to stalk Daniel around the city… increasing the network of mysteries…


7. Miracle. Story of crossed destinies

We return to our journey through Romanian cinema and films set in Romania with a mystery, Miracle (2021), a crime film by Bogdan George. This film was also shot predominantly in Bogdan’s hometown of Piatra Neamt . The Romanian film is divided into two chapters , in the first part we follow Cristina , a young nun of just 19 years old. She secretly escapes from her isolated monastery to solve a matter, and during her mysterious journey, she wanders the city in search of a man.

Not finding him, she returns to her convent in the evening, but along the way an unexpected event awaits her. In the second part we observe Marius Preda , a police inspector in his 40s. His goal is to understand what happened to Cristina. The inspector, step by step, retraces the path of the young nun. A well-studied film from Romanian cinema, with a mirror-like structure in search of clues and with a mystery to solve, also understanding Cristina’s reasons and arriving at what can probably truly be considered a miracle.

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8. East. Last Minute Dittatura

Among the films set in Romania that we want to recommend, we also find Italian productions , as in the case of Est – Dittatura Last Minute (2020) by Antonio Pisu. A road movie inspired by the story Farewell Ceausescu . In Cesena in 1989 , shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall , three boys are looking for a place to spend their holidays in Eastern Europe, like the previous year in Bulgaria, in Sofia . Once in Budapest they meet Emil , a Romanian fleeing from the dictatorship. Worried about his family remaining in Romania, he asks the boys to bring him back a suitcase . Bibi, going against the wishes of her friends, takes the suitcase. Only when they arrive at a control, Rice notices the extra baggage and throws it away , leaving a suspicious car that follows them.

Once in Romania, however, they realize the living conditions of the people and decide to recover the luggage, which disappeared in a red car . They begin a chase and, along the way, they see empty taverns, Ceausescu ‘s faces on signs and deserted villages, followed by the music of Battiato and Albano . Once they arrive in Bucharest , they meet Il Bolognese , who deals with illicit trafficking, and they find the red car. They manage to convince the car owner to return the suitcase and take it to Emil’s house, where they are warmly welcomed. This will highlight Emil’s family as enemies of the dictatorship in the eyes of the Securitate . A Romania film and an exciting road adventure !

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© – Est. Last Minute Dittatura

9. La Gomera. The Island of Whistling

Romanian film by Corneliu Porumboiu set between Romania and the Canary Islands , Spain, La Gomera – The Island of Whistling (2019), is an action film from Romanian cinema that we recommend. Cristi is a Romanian policeman who arrives in Gomera , Canary Islands. He is welcomed by Gilda , the woman he loves. Here on the island he begins to learn the language of the locals , a whistling and hissing language. This is to help Zsolt escape from prison in Romania.

He is in fact the only one who knows about the hiding of 42 million euros . This money belongs to a dangerous Mexican criminal, Paco , and if they fail to recover the money soon, they will all be killed. Cristi is a corrupt inspector and on the island of Gomera, in the Canaries, he will learn the secret language of the whistlers , essential to be able to communicate with his accomplices without being discovered by the police.

la gomera
La Gomera

10. East of Bucharest

Finally, among the best films of Romanian cinema that we want to recommend to you to discover Romania through cinema, we find East of Bucharest . A Fost sau na fost? , in the original language, is a Romanian film by Corneliu Porumboiu, set in Vaslui , eastern Romania shortly after the fall of the regime . Here, the city’s residents talk about how to celebrate the anniversary of the end of communism. To do this, they organize a TV program at a local station, where they can host a talk show for the celebrations , having people intervene by telephone. The director of the network, Virgil Jderescu , organizes the program live, asking those who speak a simple question. Was there really a revolution in this city? Did people in fact only take to the streets after the fall of Ceausescu?

Because, in this case, the revolution was not made, but only a party . The topic is much more thorny than they expected and the expected guests decline the invitation. Jderescu, however, manages to make up for their lack by calling Tiberiu Manescu , a penniless and drunkard professor who boasted of challenging the dictatorship, and the old Emanoil Piscoci , who in the past dressed as Santa Claus for the little ones. Manescu, unnerved by the comparison, however, soon begins to blurt out on TV the private affairs of well-known people in the city and Piscoci will soon slip into nonsense too.

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