ASTRA FILM EXCELLENCY AWARD
Astra Film Festival is honoured to be able to present the Excellency Award to the Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu for his outstanding contribution to world cinema.
His work as a filmmaker and as a speaker effects a kind of remarkable act of purification for all of us who are involved in cinema. Mr Puiu is not by chance a long-time friend and collaborator of this festival and the of documentary cinema. Astra Film Festival and he have been preoccupied for many years in a search for cinema, the one and only cinema which is experienced in some form of collectivity and has moments we can recognise as full of truth so forms a shared and binding bond. In this sense “there is only one cinema –he says, the term fiction and documentary are just administrative labels”.
Puiu has been present across the past 10 years at Astra Film Festival, in a great collaboration which has enriched the festival profile by inspiring many young filmmakers, but his work as a filmmaker can be felt across the strands of the documentary cinema we show. The most important link between the films he makes and the practice of documentary cinema is the position of filmmaker as witness. Earlier this week, speaking at this festival, Cristi said that the essential feature of his work lies in this process: the filmmaker creates a frame – and then is present until something happens in that frame. That is to say: the role of the filmmaker, the director of cinema, is an art of presence; but, more than that, what you are trying to allow to come into being is a moment in which the truth of a moment is revealed and transmitted by cinematic language in some form or other. We all know when we are in the presence of this truth - there is no education or training necessary for this; in this sense art is the most democratic and egalitarian of all human activities – the moment of recognition of the truth gives an exhilarating access to something that earlier generations called divinity.
Cristi combines a totally rigorous, conceptually formal and yet also improvisatory cinematic practice. He does this by being both utterly uncompromising about the way he works and totally open to ‘the moment’ of action before the camera that shape the language of the moving image.
Cristi works with a kind of relentless energy to cleanse the idiom, the position and practice of cinema in a world where celebrity, glamour, industry and the quest for wealth constantly muddies the essence of cinematic work.
For this, above all else, we hail his contribution and are proud to have this friend who defends what matters more than anything else in this confused world of cinema and human affairs.