- June 10, 2004
Coming of age in post-Revolution Romania
Cinepub, the Romanian films online platform, presents the movie that initiated what later was called The New Romanian Cinema or The New Wave. In „Stuff and Dough”, signed by Cristi Puiu, there are defined the techniques and the concept of the minimalist realism that seduced the international film juries.
Director: Cristi Puiu
Scriptwriters: Cristi Puiu & Răzvan Rădulescu
Cast: Alexandru Papadopol, Dragoș Bucur, Ioana Flora, Luminița Gheorghiu, Răzvan Vasilescu
Produced by: S.C. Rofilm S.A., Filmex România (Executive Producers)
Cinematography by: Silviu Stavilă
Film editing by: Ines Barbu
Category: feature film
Duration: 90 minutes
Subtitles: English, French
234,021 – Cinepub viewers
A young man from Constanța who has his own business (sells from the window of his apartment) wants to expand and buy a stall, but he hasn’t got the means just yet. A local toff offers his a significant sum of money for an apparently simple transport: a bag that needs to be taken to Bucharest, at an exact address. However, the bag seems to contain some things that others show interest in. if at the beginning he believes he has only sold his services, the young man eventually understands that he had in fact sold his conscience.
Cristi Puiu’s film has been said to have saved, in 2001, the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section of Cannes Film Festival, while in Romania cinemas remained empty when the movie was screened. The Romanian public was not yet aware that a new type of cinematography was being born right then, and that „Stuff and Dough” was going to be a road-opener for many Romanian films towards international reception. At the time, „Stuff and Dough” was a Romanian film about the Romania of those times, the years after the fall of the communism. The film is brutal, violent, ruthless. It was also said to be an initiation of the two young men, Ovidiu and Vali, a „coming of age”.
What seemed a simple opportunity to make some money by transporting something, proves to be a trampoline which projects the two young men right in the middle of an unimaginable reality: a dangerous world, with mobsters who hide behind the mask of the resourceful friend who know your parents, but who have no scruples, and will even commit cold-blooded murder, if necessary.
The great success of the film is the way in which this reality of ferocious criminality progressively bubbles up to the surface, quite naturally, from under the fabric of the most natural everyday life, in the tail of most ordinary lines, while characters drink their beer and eat their chips in the kitchen of the small apartment they have grown up in.
A film that couldn’t have missed from the Romanian films online platform, Cinepub.
“A lot could be added about the complexity of the exponential simplicity (the term, no matter how pretentious, can’t be avoided) of this film. Starting with the formidable naturalness – on the page and screen, where the insignificant little adventures and the innocent-trivial vocabulary have become a trademark of the “homeys” (but not only!). And going back to the moment of absolute virtuousness that is the tense car chase. When – lo and behold – the characters get carried away in their conversation and you – the viewer – freeze to death at every curve, at every bush that might be hiding more criminals.” (Irina Coroiu, www.aarc.ro )
“In the construction of the minute realism in Stuff and Dough, the dialogues that accompany the trip play a decisive part. Had Puiu had it wrong here, the entire film wouldn’t have made it. But the film has made it, and moment after moment, the reality effect builds up, and the lines and situations coagulate, and create a whole that sticks together. At first sight, the choice of conversation seems random, and precisely this apparent lack of direction – assisted by the shallow subjects and the impact of the entire boorish road “rhetoric”– put a print of “naturalness” or naturalism on the film”. (Rareș Moldovan, www.revistaechinox.ro )
„Watched 15 years after its release, “Stuff and Dough”, which starts to become a „historical document” shows even more clearly as a film about a generation, accurately described by Eugenia Vodă when she refers to Papadopol’s character, as a possible representative – a mixture of “unconsciousness, shallowness, innocence, stubbornness and pragmatism”. A generation who was just about to end up measuring its success by moving out their parents’ house and possibly opening a small convenient store, in a society whose harsh realities (which include the local mobster) were just starting to become known.” (Ionuț Mareș, www.ziarulmetropolis.ro )
“The brilliance of “Stuff and Dough” is that it wraps this powerful, disturbing drama in an anecdote from ordinary life. As is often the case in recent Romanian movies, the acting is so accomplished as to be invisible.” (A.O.Scott, www.nytimes.com)
“Puiu’s film is a day-in-the-life look at a group of young people living in a country still recovering from years of misrule and international neglect, shot with the kind of off-the-cuff, jump-cut filled energy that validates the catchphrase «Romanian New Wave».” (Ken Fox, www.tvguide.com )
“Puiu is a honed observer of human behaviour and understands how the constant threat of violence in a post-communist state unaccustomed to the competitiveness of a market economy can work as a dramatic catalyst.” (Patrick Gamble, www.theskinny.co.uk )
“Transport: 1) 6 packages 2) of medical substances …
What kind of medical substances?
Pharmaceuticals – What’s written on the box. That’s all you need to know!”
“Didn’t I tell you to come alone? Where did you pick her up?”
“Shit, man, pull over now!”
“I don’t let anybody clobber me!”
“Got the balls to open the bag?
Sure, what the fuck!”
“Man, I told her to stay rooted to the spot, didn’t I? Stop staring, you cow!”
Don’t cross me! Or I’ll send you, your folks and your fucking stall to kingdom come!”
- Cannes International Film Festival (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) – France, 2001 Karlovy-Vary
- International Film Festival – Czech Republic, 2001
- Bratislava International Film Festival – Slovakia, 2001
- Grand Prix, Bratislava International Film Festival – Slovakia, 2001
- Best Film, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema – Argentina, 2002
- Golden Camera, Cannes Film Festival – France, 2001
- Golden Alexander (Cristi Puiu), Thessaloniki Film Festival – Greece, 2001
- Special Prize in the Feature Film Competition & „Findling” Award,Cottbus Film Festival of Young East European Cinema – Germany, 2001
- FIPRESCI Award & Best Actor (Alexandru Papadopol), Thessaloniki Film Festival – Greece, 2001
- Special Mention,Trieste Film Festival – Italy, 2002
- Procirep Award (Cristi Puiu), Angers European First Film Festival – France, 2002
- Abasto Award, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema – Argentina, 2002
- In Stuff and Dough the journey is the destination – www.villagevoice.com
- Beware the Road of Good Intentions, – www.nytimes.com
- Young and the Bucharestless hit the road, www.nypost.com
- Stuff and Dough, www.tvguide.com
- Stuff and Dough, www.reverseshot.org
- Stuff and Dough – Discover the film that kicked off the Romanian New Wave, www.theskinny.co.uk