Radu Jude Wins the Golden Bear

Katia Pascariu in Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021)

Six past winners of the Golden Bear, the Berlinale’s top prize, Zoomed in at noon, European time, to announce that they had decided to award the 2021 Golden Bear to Radu Jude’s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn. In a statement read by Nadav Lapid (Synonyms, 2019), the jury, whose other members are Ildikó Enyedi (On Body and Soul, 2017), Adina Pintilie (Touch Me Not, 2018), Mohammad Rasoulof (There Is No Evil, 2020), Gianfranco Rosi (Fire at Sea, 2016), and Jasmila Žbanić (Grbavica, 2006), explained that Jude’s film “captures on screen the very content and essence, the mind and body, the values and the raw flesh of our present moment in time. Of this very moment of human existence.” Bad Luck Banging is “clever and childish, geometrical and vibrant, imprecise in the best way.”

So far, most reviewers agree. Throughout the festival, six discerning critics have been rating Berlinale entries for the German magazine Cargo, and as of this writing, in a list of over forty titles sampled from every program, Bad Luck Banging comes in second after Alexandre Koberidze’s What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? Jude’s film has also been holding its own on critic.de’s jury grid. “Divided into three roughly equal parts—each executed in a completely different style—with a sexually explicit prologue and three so-called ‘possible endings,’ Bad Luck Banging is an ever-shapeshifting beast of a film,” writes Keith Watson at Slant, where he suggests that it’s “a kind of fire sale of Jude’s observations on everything from life during the Covid-19 pandemic to Romania’s dark history of fascism.”

In the first part, an amateur porn video made by a teacher, Emi (Katia Pascaiu), and her husband goes viral, and she heads out to the streets of Bucharest looking for ways to get it out of the ether. The second part is an essayistic lexicon of relevant terms, and in the third, Emi faces the fury of her students’ parents. “Lofty pedagogical ideas get bandied with vicious sexist, racist, particularly anti-Semitic slurs,” writes Ela Bittencourt in the Notebook. But “just as in Aferim!, Jude takes his comedy very seriously. His true theme is a world gone virally ill, long before the pandemic. Not just viral videos, but the entire postmodern complex, in which everything, from desire and intimacy to history, gets digested, regurgitated and monetize as instant content—thanks to the same digital means that power cinema these days.”

You have no items in your shopping cart