“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.”
"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.”
"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."
“An unambigious, resonating critique of the country’s shameful treatment of its Roma minority…Stylish, full of nuance and commentary…” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily
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I don’t know which psychologist said that a person is mentally healthy only if they know where they come from, where they are and where they want to go. I believe this applies to societies too, not only individuals. The Romanian society will not be truly healthy until itfaces its past with honesty and lucidity – be it the recent or the remote past.
The movie Aferim! is an attempt to gaze into the past, to take a journey inside the mentalities of the beginning of the 19th century – all epistemological imperfections inherent to such an enterprise included. It is obvious that such an effort would be pointless should we not believe that this hazy past holds the explanation for certain present issues.
“We research each period firstly for the promises they contain for the periods that follow,” says cultural historian Johan Huizinga. More than anything, I want this film to be a stimulus that makes the audience question in a deeper and more systematic way the issues I was only able to bring up.