Cristian Mungiu shares his doubts and compromises in Baccalaureat (Graduation)

Film still of Bacalaureat (Graduation) © RR

When Cristian Mungiu is in Competition, he never goes home without a prize. Winner of the Palme d’or for 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days in 2007, Award for Best Screenplay for Beyond the Hills (Dupa Dealuri) in 2012, the Romanian director is in competition this year with Graduation, a very autobiographical film.

The baccalaureat. The Grail that opens the doors to higher education. For Eliza, a very good student, this should be a mere formality. Her father, Romeo, is proud to have put his daughter on the path to university, until the day that Eliza is attacked by an aggressor. The future suddenly becomes unclear and Romeo abandons the principles instilled by his family to deal with the situation.

At the heart of Graduation lies compromise, concession. Cristian Mungiu personifies this feeling in Romeo, a man who is almost fifty, and well established. When his daughter's future is disrupted, he is already at a turning point in his life. His marriage is faltering, his mother is ill, and he has to reconsider the way he has raised his daughter. Film is the medium to express these feelings.

“What is special about cinema is precisely the details that we can only see when we watch a film: an attitude that cannot be translated into words, a vague feeling, a state of mind that is not transparent – things that cannot be expressed in language.”

Going against one's values, compromising oneself, this is the point of departure that Cristian Mungiu explores in this film. He analyses this moment in a life when a person takes the plunge into deception to overcome a problem, and finds that there is no possible return, only alienation. In making this film, the author infers that he is questioning his own moral values and that he hopes to confront the viewer with his choices, deceptions, and decisions.