Special Jury Prize
Supported by the Goethe-Institut
In 1937, Emanuel (a very game Lucian Teodor Rus) is diagnosed with bone tuberculosis (or Pott’s disease) and is confined to Carmen Sylva, a marine sanatorium near the Black Sea. After the head doctor gleefully removes a pus-filled abscess while puffing on a cigarette, Emanuel is soon encased in a heavy body cast, and must spend all of his hours confined to his bed. A highly intelligent young man in he early twenties with a penchant for quoting poetry and philosophy, Emanuel tries to live life to its fullest in this Magic Mountain-like setting – keeping up his good humor, arguing over politics with blithe anti-Semites and falling in love with Solange, a recovered former patient sporting a leg brace – but is it only a matter of time until he, like many other of his fellow patients, becomes resigned to his arbitrary fate?
Loosely based on the autobiographical writings of Jewish Romanian author Max Blecher, poetic excerpts of which appear onscreen as intertitles, punctuating the scenes (e.g., "Darkness lay around us like thick wine"), Radu Jude’s eerily gorgeous Inimi cicatrizate (Scarred Hearts) uses Emanuel’s immobility to develop a melancholic master class in mise en scène. For his second consecutive period piece (following the Berlin Best Director-winning Aferim!), Jude shoots on 35mm film with a mostly immobile camera and in the Academy ratio, luxuriating in the rich details of the sanatorium, and exploring the plasterized Lothario’s realization of his own mortality. The impressive result is a cumulative humanistic power made even more trenchant with the fact that, outside of the hospital, as the time passes, the Iron Guard and Romanian fascism is on the rise…
By Mark Peranson