“Aferim” is an Ottoman-Romanian equivalent to “bravo”, and nearly everybody in Radu Jude’s third feature says it one way or another. The irony is how there’s nothing worth all that back-slapping with characters so profane in what could be dubbed a 19th century Wallachian Western. Costadin and his son Ionita are two bounty hunters setting out on horseback to catch a Roma slave. As they go about their manhunt, they come across a nation seemingly racing to a moral bottom, where a priest freely spews racist diatribes and aristocrats wield their power with grotesque impunity. Ever mischievous, Jude elects to mount this hell in stunningly pristine black and white. Veering away from the in-your-face social realism of his two features, Aferim! is as smooth and visually arresting a modern-made period drama could be. Maybe that’s the point: while the story seems to be from a past age, the horror is every bit about the here and now.
Screened with: Dear Intellectuals
Language: Romanian, German(English Subtitles)
Duration: 4 Mins
Director: Radu Jude
Story: In April 2020, a Romanian writer retweeted a “super cool” online meme in which the Roma were compared to “crows”, a racist epithet which went back centuries. He duly apologised, but a confounding number of Romanian literati defended him, uttering even more racist bile. Hannah Arendt: “I want nothing to do with intellectuals again!”
Teodor Corban, Mihai Comanoiu, Cuzin Toma, Alexandru Dabija