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Our guide to the Chicago Romanian Cultural Marathon

Three days of events kick off Friday at Facets Cinematheque.

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The Romanian New Wave—encompassing such minimalist, socially rigorous dramas as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005); 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007); and Police, Adjective (2009)—has put Romanian cinema on the map. But as this three-day interdisciplinary festival suggests, that's not all the country has to offer cinephiles. Presented by Facets Cinematheque and the nonprofit Romanian Cultural Exchange, the marathon includes four recent Romanian features, as well as a cocktail party, various talks, two theater performances in Romanian, and a program of short videos by local artists. J.R. Jones

I'm an Old Communist Hag Luminita Gheorghiu, a chameleonic actress who's appeared in many key films of the Romanian New Wave, stars as an engineer who held a prominent factory position in the communist 1970s; retired now but still nostalgic for the Ceauşescu era, she experiences culture shock when her grown daughter brings home a materialistic American husband. This dry comedy of manners might be seen as a companion piece to Child's Pose (2013), another Romanian feature about intergenerational strife that also starred Gheorghiu. Her character here is gentler and more sympathetic, and the overall tone is milder, yet the film's subtext is no less cynical—a key observation is that the mother had better job security than her daughter does in the U.S. Stere Gulea directed. In English and subtitled Romanian. —Ben Sachs 97 min. Fri 9/19, 9 PM.

The Japanese Dog Old wine in a new bottle, this 2013 drama applies the aesthetic of the Romanian New Wave to a familiar tale about a small-town widower (Victor Rebengiuc, in the sort of role Walter Matthau often played in his later years) reassessing his life after most of his property gets destroyed by a flood. Director Tudor Cristian Jurgiu demonstrates the same exacting sense of time and space as Puiu, Porumboiu, et al, and the rigorous style ameliorates the sentimentality of the script, which has the man's estranged son returning home after more than a decade in Japan. In Japanese and Romanian with subtitles. Ben Sachs 83 min. Sat 9/20, 6 PM.

Miss Christina Produced by HBO Romania (who knew?), this good old-fashioned gothic horror tale (2013) offers just the right amount of silk-nightgown eroticism and not a trace of irony. A young Bucharest painter accompanies his sweetheart to her family's estate and discovers that it's haunted by the ghost of an ancestor who was murdered there three decades earlier, during the Romanian Peasants' Revolt in 1907. Before long this ghostly beauty is visiting him in his dreams and tempting him away from his flesh-and-blood girlfriend. Adapted from a novel by Mircea Eliade, the movie transpires not far from Transylvania, geographically or tonally; among the story accoutrements are an eerie oil painting of the villainess, a creepy little girl who communes with the dead, and a Van Helsing-like archaeologist who's unearthing a nearby necropolis. Alexandru Maftei directed. In Romanian with subtitles. J.R. Jones 97 min. Eliade introduces the screening, at 7:30 PM. Sun 9/21, 8 PM.

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