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Romania boasts unique, innovative culture

Update: November, 30/2013 - 09:02
Landmark: The Romanian Athenaeum, a concert hall in the centre of Bucharest, is one of the major sights of the Romanian capital. — Photo couresy of Romanian Embassy

Romania will celebrate its 95th National Day tomorrow. On this occasion, Valeriu Arteni, Charge d'Affaires of Romania to Viet Nam, introduces the country's culture to Viet Nam News readers.

Built on an ancient past, forged by a complex his-tory, deeply attached to centuries-old traditions but actively connected to the latest trends of the global world, Romanian culture represents a unique and fascinating mix. Its voice in the polyphonic chorus of global culture has been shaped by a constant, faithful bond to values of ancient spirituality and an energetic desire to always be part of the dynamics of cultural universality.

Romania prides itself in being one of the few remaining hubs of traditional authenticity and Byzantine heritage, uniquely combining Latinity with Eastern Orthodoxy, with a folklore whose richness and originality are increasingly valued in a world of global uniformity.

The significance of the traditional culture dimension in crafting Romanian spirituality (exquisitely reflected in the iconography of the famous frescos of the churches of Northern Moldavia) has been fully acknowledged and celebrated in modern times. Two of the most popular (and spectacular) museums in Bucharest pay tribute to this invaluable heritage: the open air Village Museum (the product of the dedicated work of Dimitrie Gusti and of the members of the Romanian Sociological School he had pioneered in the 1930s) and the Museum of the Romanian Peasant (the originality of which, mainly due to the profound creativity of painter Horia Bernea, was rewarded in 1996 with the European Museum of the Year prize).

Old spiritual traditions have represented a constant source of inspiration for Romanian modern artists, who re-discovered and highlighted universal dimensions within these traditions. Among them, perhaps the most renowned, is sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957). His works, reminiscent of the peasant universe and laden with universal meanings, are nowadays cherished all over the world as paragons of modern art.

But, as emphasised above, Romanian culture not only draws on its traditional past; it also contributes innovative artistic visions to the world's spiritual heritage. Tristan Tzara (1896-1963) and the avant-garde Dada movement are exemplary in this respect.

In the same vein, Romanian contemporary creativity is also represented by some fascinating examples:

Movies have been one of Romania's most successful cultural products during the last decade, impressing international juries and audience alike. The Romanian director Cristian Mungiu won the European Film Award of the European Film Academy and the Palme d'Or prize at the International Film Festival in Cannes in 2007 for his movie 4 Weeks, 3 Months, 2 Days. Police, Adjective, directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, was awarded the International Federation of Film Critics prize in 2009. Florin Serban's movie If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle won the Grand Prix, the Silver Bear, at the 60th Berlin Film Festival. More recently, Calin Peter Netzer's The Child's Pose won the Golden Bear at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival and enjoys increasing success in cinemas all over the world. It is currently Romania's Foreign Language Movie Category candidate for the 2014 Academy Awards.

In regards to literature, Mircea Cartarescu's works have been translated into over twelve languages since 1989. The novel Simion Liftite, authored by the Romanian Petru Cimpoiesu, was the 2006 book of the year in the Czech Republic. The 2009 Nobel prize for literature went to a German writer of Romanian origin, Herta Muller, whose books stem from her experience in totalitarian Romania.

The biggest classical music festival in Southeastern Europe, the Enescu Festival, takes place every two years in Bucharest, seconded by RADIRO – the International Festival of Radio Orchestras. Every November, Romania hosts an international chamber music festival (SoNoRo) in Bucharest and other major cities. An international jazz festival is organised every year in the picturesque mountain village of Garana. The International Theatre Festival in Sibiu brings together participants from 70 countries with 350 events in 55 venues and 60,000 spectators. Faust, staged by the reputed director Silviu Purcarete, distinguished itself at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2009, followed by the international premiere of Gulliver's Travels at the same prestigious festival in 2012.

A National Museum of Contemporary Arts was created in Bucharest and internationally acclaimed Romanian artists like Mircea Cantor (winner, in 2011, of the prestigious Marcel Duchamp prize), Adrian Ghenie and Dan Perjovschi have exhibited their works in famous venues all over the world. — VNS

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