Shigeru Umebayashi x Radu Jude
Greetings from Crîngași
Before he was among the top international film composers, Shigeru Umebayashi, born in Kitakyushu, Japan, on 19 February 1951, was already a rock star in his own country. At least until his new wave rock group Ex suddenly called it quits. Through an actor friend, he entered the film world shortly thereafter. From his first film Sorekara (And Then) his talent was noticed. He composed the score for more than a hundred films, including some forty Asian productions.
Umebayashi owes his international fame mainly to his collaboration with Wong Kar-wai. But the most famous "Yumeji's theme" from his In the Mood for Love actually comes from another film, Yumeji. Director Seijun Suzuki pushed that song aside. A grateful Umebayashi collaborated again with Wong Kar-wai for 2046 and The Grandmaster. Almost as famous is his collaboration with Zhang Yimou for such films as House of Flying Daggers and Curse of The Golden Flower. But European and American films also benefited from Umebayashi's sound idiom, a fusion of Western melodies and Eastern sounds. Just think of such films as A Single Man, Hannibal Rising, Absurdistan, Trishna and Tears for Sale.
When praised for his versatility, the composer likes to refer to The Beatles, of whom he is a great admirer. He praises their use of diverse styles and textures without losing their individuality. He himself also likes to make use of different musical styles. We were introduced to these styles live in Ghent in 2009 at Shigeru Umebayashi in concert at Vooruit.
Thought-provoking. That is the most striking feature of Radu Jude’s (born in Bucharest on 7 April 1977) oeuvre, which consists of varied short and feature films. After being denied admission to the National Film School three times, he enrolled in film studies at Bucharest's Media University. He then worked as a director's assistant and shot his first short film in 2006. With his first feature film, The Happiest Girl in the World, he garnered worldwide acclaim. His big break came in 2015 with Aferim, a Balkan western set in 1835 and based on historical documents. Since then, history has been something of a common thread in his filmography.
After his mixed-received Max Blecher film adaptation Scarred Hearts, Radu Jude caused a stir with I Do Not Care if We Go Down in History as Barbarians. Through a contemporary reconstruction, he reminds his compatriots of the murder of Jews in Odessa during WWII. The ideas that gave rise to this horrible event are still there, he says. In his Golden Bear-winning Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, he looks at the Covid period in Bucharest, and with A Tale of Cinema and Economics in Two Parts: Overworked and Underpaid, he takes a look at contemporary economic abuses. Radu Jude likes to pepper his inventively shot films with many cultural references to give them an essay-like character. Between all the seriousness, the sometimes sardonic humour is not lacking. His short films shot in between reinforce his cinematic structure. He is a welcome jury member at all international festivals, as he was at Film Fest Gent in 2019.