Cristi Puiu Goes on Anti-Mask Rant, Says It’s ‘Inhuman’ to Watch His Film with a Face Covering

Romanian filmmaker Cristi Puiu is known for making films of near-punishing lengths, from the 181-minute “Aurora” to the just-under-three-hours “Sieranevada.” His latest film, the philosophical historical drama “Malmkrog,” is 200 minutes — a long time to sit in a theater while wearing a face mask. (“Tenet” faces a similar challenge with its two-and-a-half-hour runtime.)

Puiu, while presenting his new film at the Transylvania International Film Festival this summer, thinks so too. Which is why, in his introduction to the movie, he said it was “inhuman” to watch his film with a mask on, and launched into an anti-mask rant stating that, while the virus is real, the “tone of the authorities is unacceptable.” The speech, below, was reported by Romania Journal.

OK, I understand, social distancing, and the obligation to wear a face mask in open air in Cluj. OK, I am sorry for you, it is a 200-minute film. To stay with your mask on while watching a 200-minute film is inhuman. And I kindly ask you to leave when you feel like leaving, when you think you cannot bear the mask anymore. If you are here and watch a film today, it’s because some undisciplined people in Romania said ‘No’ to dictatorship in December 1989. The established ruling would better talk to people, have a dialogue, not treat us like some cattle. Yes, there is this problem, there is an epidemic, there is a virus, but the tone of the authorities is unacceptable.

I find it absolutely amazing that people are disciplined and careful about all details in Cluj and I absolutely think that any abuse must be fined. And if you don’t do it by voting this time, nobody will do it. And I know people are scared and I respect the social distancing and I wear masks in any enclosed space. But if tomorrow you’ll be asked to walk with your hands, you’ll do it. I am very sorry, and I know you do not all agree with me and you are afraid of the pandemic. You should be afraid of some other, more serious things instead.

“Malmkrog” made its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, and played in Belgrade and France where, according to Puiu, it played “in cinema theaters with no social distancing and no face masks.” Next, “Malmkrog” will play in the Main Slate at the New York Film Festival.

Romania has had a total of nearly 70,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,000 deaths.

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