Director: Radu Jude

Country: Romania/Bulgaria/
Czech Republic

Year: 2015

Running time: 106 min


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“Brilliant...Sublime!” - A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Wildly, bitterly funny...Remarkable!” - Robert Horton, Film Comment

“Hugely entertaining...One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time...I would not be surprised if this showed up on my best 10 list when we get to the end of the year.” — David Sterritt, Films in Focus

“You’ve never seen a period movie quite like Aferim! - Eric Kohn, indiewire

Eastern Europe, 1835. Two riders cross a barren landscape in the middle of Wallachia. They are the gendarme Costandin and his son. Together they are searching for a gypsy slave who has run away from his nobleman master and is suspected of having an affair with the noble's wife. While the unflappable Costandin comments on every situation with a cheery aphorism, his son takes a more contemplative view of the world. On their odyssey they encounter people of different nationalities and beliefs: Turks and Russians, Christians and Jews, Romanians and Hungarians. Each harbors prejudices against the others which have been passed down from generation to generation. And even when the slave Carfin is found, the adventure is far from over...

Radu Jude’s third feature has been aptly compared to films as diverse as THE SEARCHERS, THE LAST DETAIL and PULP FICTION (the latter for its rambling, coarse and endlessly entertaining dialogues), but the film is ultimately a moving parable about late-feudal Europe developed from historical documents and songs: its power structures and hierarchies, people's ideas of themselves and others, interaction with minorities and the resulting conflicts. A Balkan Western in black-and-white that brings the cacophony of the times strikingly to life and explores the thematic arcs that stretch into the present.

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Aferim! is an exceptional, deeply intelligent gaze into a key historical period, done with wit as well as anger…Unquestionably, Aferim! is made with the intelligent arthouse consumer in mind…Especially striking is ace lenser Marius Panduru’s terrific 35mm black-and-white visuals, keenly attentive to a sense of tone and reminiscent at times of 19th-century photographs.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

"Official descriptions suggest [protagonist] Costandin's personality lies somewhere between Stalin and Don Quixote, but with his mixture of bravado and ignorance, wouldn't seem altogether out of place in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Ultimately, though, "Aferim!" amounts to a serious endeavor designed to explore many facets of its era through the lens of people trapped in it. Their crude dialogue, real as it may be, hints at comedic possibilities while offering a shrewd look at people defined by their circumstances…With its intentionally meandering portrait of comically inept officials, "Aferim!" has a kind of spiritual kinship with Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H," and shares its ironic perspective on the grim context of the events at hand.” – Eric Kohn, indiewire

"Jude and his co-writer, novelist Florin Lazarescu, draw on real accounts of gypsy slavery for inspiration. Crucially, they also manage to make this grim topic both funny and personal, not a dour social-realist sermon…Do not be fooled by the playful, irreverent tone. Behind its attractive surface sheen of lusty humor and ravishing visuals, this Trojan Horse drama makes some spiky topical points about the lingering scars of slavery, feudalism, misogyny and racism.” – Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter

“An unambigious, resonating critique of the country’s shameful treatment of its Roma minority…Stylish, full of nuance and commentary…” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily

"Delicious and wicked as the dialogue is — the insults and epithets are Shakespeare with a hard-R rating — the fire that fuels the film's engine is a lot more serious…The current of informed anger, directed at those who stand by while injustice and bigotry flourish, is unmistakable… But really, what makes "Aferim!" (which means "Bravo!" incidentally) such a unique cinephile experience is that you get to say, truthfully, that you've seen a black and white, period Romanian art-house movie that intelligently dissects and contextualizes the historical roots of racism, and no one need ever know you've just had a blast.” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist








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