Romanian cinema has a rich and diverse history, with a range of films that explore a wide range of themes and genres.

The country’s cinema industry has faced challenges over the years, but Romanian filmmakers have continued to produce high-quality movies that have gained recognition both locally and internationally.

Some of the most notable Romanian films include the critically acclaimed drama “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, and “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” a dark comedy that was also well received critically and commercially.

Other notable Romanian movies include “Police, Adjective,” “Beyond the Hills,” and “Graduation.”

Romanian cinema is known for its realism, subtle storytelling, and exploration of complex social and political issues.

Many Romanian films deal with the country’s communist past and its aftermath, as well as issues related to poverty, corruption, and social inequality. However, Romanian filmmakers also produce movies that explore other themes, including family dynamics, relationships, and personal struggles.

Best Romanian Movies

Overall, Romanian cinema is an important and vibrant part of the country’s cultural heritage, and it continues to produce films that challenge, inspire, and entertain audiences around the world.

1. Forest of the Hanged (1965)

“Forest of the Hanged” is a 1965 Romanian war drama film directed by Liviu Ciulei. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Liviu Rebreanu and is set during World War I.

The film tells the story of a young Romanian soldier named Apostol Bologa, who is accused of espionage by the Austro-Hungarian army and faces the death penalty.

The film explores themes of patriotism, loyalty, and the horrors of war, as well as the impact of political and ideological differences on personal relationships.

“Forest of the Hanged” was the first Romanian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

It received critical acclaim for its powerful and emotional storytelling, as well as for its groundbreaking use of cinematic techniques, such as flashbacks and dream sequences.

The film has been praised for its portrayal of the psychological toll of war, as well as for its exploration of the complex relationship between Romania and its neighboring countries.

It remains a landmark of Romanian cinema and a testament to the power of cinema to explore the most profound human experiences.

Forest of the Hanged
  • Rebreanu, Liviu (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 366 Pages - 01/25/2020 (Publication Date) - Tiberian Press (Publisher)

2. The Dacians (1966)

“The Dacians” (Dacii) is a Romanian historical drama film directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu. The film is set during the Roman-Dacian wars in the 2nd century AD and tells the story of the legendary Dacian king, Decebalus, and his struggle to resist the Roman Empire.

The film follows Decebalus as he leads his people in a fierce battle against the Romans, who are led by the ruthless general Trajan.

The film also explores the relationships between Decebalus and his wife, the Roman senator who serves as Trajan’s intermediary with Decebalus, and the Roman soldiers who are caught between loyalty to their empire and their respect for Decebalus.


“The Dacians” is a sweeping and epic film that captures the grandeur and brutality of ancient warfare. The film’s lush cinematography, elaborate sets and costumes, and dynamic battle scenes make it a visually stunning work of Romanian cinema.

The film was highly acclaimed upon its release and has since become a classic of Romanian cinema. Its themes of national identity, resistance to oppression, and the struggle for freedom continue to resonate with audiences today.

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3. Michael the Brave (1971)

“Michael the Brave” is a Romanian historical drama film directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu and released in 1971.

The film tells the story of Michael the Brave, a prince who united the three principalities of Wallachia, Transylvania, and Moldavia in the late 16th century and successfully resisted Ottoman Empire’s expansion into Eastern Europe.

The film focuses on Michael’s struggle to unify the three regions and build a strong alliance to resist the Ottoman Empire’s attempts to conquer the region.

The movie features epic battle scenes, political intrigue, and a deep exploration of the religious and cultural tensions that existed in the region at the time.

“Michael the Brave” is considered one of the most important Romanian films ever made, and is widely regarded as a classic of Eastern European cinema.

The film stars Amza Pellea as Michael the Brave, and features supporting performances from Ion Besoiu, Sergiu Nicolaescu, and Olga Tudorache.

The film’s powerful storytelling and stunning cinematography have earned it critical acclaim both at home and abroad.

Michael Is Brave
  • Hardcover Book
  • Buckley, Helen Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/02/1971 (Publication Date) - William Morrow & Co (Publisher)

4. Un comisar acuzã (1974)

“Un comisar acuză” (also known as “A Police Inspector Calls”) is a Romanian film directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu and released in 1974.

The film is set in Romania during World War II and follows the story of a police inspector named Tudor Moldovan (played by Sergiu Nicolaescu), who is tasked with investigating the murder of a prostitute.

The investigation leads Moldovan into a dangerous web of political intrigue and corruption, as he discovers a conspiracy involving members of the fascist Iron Guard and the Romanian secret police.

The film is notable for its portrayal of Romania’s wartime history and its use of suspense and tension to drive the narrative. “Un comisar acuză” was a critical and commercial success in Romania and helped establish Sergiu Nicolaescu as one of the country’s leading filmmakers.

The film was also widely acclaimed internationally and won several awards at film festivals around the world.

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5. Uncle Marin, the Billionaire (1979)

“Uncle Marin, the Billionaire” is a Romanian comedy film directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu and released in 1979. The film tells the story of Marin (played by Amza Pellea), a retired sailor who inherits a fortune from his deceased brother.

With his new wealth, Marin becomes a generous benefactor to his family and friends, but his actions also attract the attention of corrupt officials who seek to exploit his wealth for their own gain.

As Marin navigates the complexities of his newfound wealth and status, he also learns important lessons about honesty, loyalty, and the true meaning of friendship. The film is known for its witty humor, colorful characters, and charming portrayal of Romanian village life.

“Uncle Marin, the Billionaire” was a commercial and critical success in Romania and remains a beloved classic of Romanian cinema.

It is considered one of the best examples of the country’s traditional comedy genre, which combines humor with social commentary and a deep affection for the rural way of life.

The film also showcases the talents of Amza Pellea, one of Romania’s most iconic actors, who brings warmth and humanity to the character of Marin.

6. The Moromete Family (1987)

“The Moromete Family” is a classic Romanian film directed by Stere Gulea, released in 1987. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Romanian author Marin Preda, which is considered one of the most important works of Romanian literature.

The story takes place in a small village in Romania before World War II and follows the lives of the Moromete family, a poor peasant family struggling to survive in difficult times.

The film explores themes such as family dynamics, social class, and the impact of modernization on traditional ways of life.

“The Moromete Family” is a masterpiece of Romanian cinema, known for its realistic portrayal of life in rural Romania and its sensitive treatment of complex social issues.

The film was well received critically and commercially and has since become a classic of Romanian cinema. It was also awarded the Golden St. George award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1988.

Overall, “The Moromete Family” is a testament to the talent and creativity of Romanian filmmakers and to the importance of cinema in exploring and highlighting important social issues.

7.The Oak (1992)

“The Oak” is a 1992 Romanian drama film directed by Lucian Pintilie. The film is set in Romania during the final years of the communist regime and tells the story of a schoolteacher named Nela, who becomes involved in a surreal and absurd series of events.

The film explores themes of freedom, individuality, and the struggle to find meaning in a society that stifles creativity and dissent. It is noted for its innovative use of music, poetry, and visual imagery to create a dreamlike atmosphere that reflects the protagonist’s inner turmoil.

“The Oak” received critical acclaim for its exploration of the human condition under oppressive political regimes, as well as for its unique and daring artistic vision.

The film won numerous awards at international film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival, and has been praised as a masterpiece of Romanian cinema.

The film is widely regarded as a powerful commentary on the state of Romania during the Ceaușescu regime and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression.

8. The Earth’s Most Beloved Son (1993)

“The Earth’s Most Beloved Son” (A föld szeretője) is a Hungarian drama film directed by János Xantus. The film is based on the life of the Hungarian poet János Arany, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest poets in Hungarian literature.

The film follows Arany’s life, from his early years as a struggling writer to his eventual success and fame as a poet. The film explores Arany’s relationships with his family, his fellow writers, and his wife, as well as his struggles with poverty, illness, and political oppression.

“The Earth’s Most Beloved Son” is a moving and poignant film that offers a powerful portrait of one of Hungary’s greatest cultural figures.

The film’s strong performances, particularly from lead actor Péter Haumann as Arany, and its lyrical and evocative cinematography make it a compelling work of Hungarian cinema.

The film was highly acclaimed upon its release and has since become a classic of Hungarian cinema. Its themes of artistic struggle, political repression, and the power of literature to inspire and uplift continue to resonate with audiences today.

9. Asphalt Tango (1996)

“Asphalt Tango” is a German drama film released in 1996, directed by Nae Caranfil. The movie follows the story of a young Romanian immigrant named Cristi (played by Alexandru Papadopol) who moves to Germany in the hopes of finding work and a better life.

In Germany, Cristi falls in love with a German woman named Sophie (played by Romina Horst), but their relationship is complicated by the cultural and linguistic barriers between them.

Meanwhile, Cristi also becomes involved with a group of Romanian immigrants who live in a makeshift community on the outskirts of the city.

As Cristi struggles to find his place in German society, he is forced to confront the harsh realities of life as an immigrant, including racism, prejudice, and the struggle to survive in a foreign land.

“Asphalt Tango” received critical acclaim upon its release, with many praising its poignant and heartfelt portrayal of the immigrant experience.

The film was noted for its powerful performances, thought-provoking themes, and evocative depiction of the clash of cultures and identities.

Overall, “Asphalt Tango” is considered an important film in the history of German cinema and a powerful exploration of the human experience of migration and displacement.

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10. Next Stop Paradise (1998)

“Next Stop Paradise” (original title: “Halt auf freier Strecke”) is a German drama film directed by Andreas Dresen and released in 2011. The film tells the story of a middle-aged man named Frank who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and given only a few months to live.

The movie focuses on Frank’s struggle to come to terms with his impending death, and the impact it has on his family, including his wife Simone and their two children.

As Frank’s condition deteriorates, the family is forced to confront difficult questions about life, death, and the meaning of family.

“Next Stop Paradise” was praised for its honest and moving portrayal of the experience of terminal illness, and for its sensitive treatment of the complex emotions and relationships involved.

The film stars Milan Peschel as Frank, and features supporting performances from Steffi Kühnert, Talisa Lilly Lemke, and Mika Seidel.

The movie won multiple awards, including the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and the German Film Award for Best Picture.

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3 Characteristics of Romanian Movies

Realism: Many Romanian movies are known for their focus on realism and their gritty and authentic portrayal of everyday life. These films often delve into the harsh realities of life in Romania, including poverty, corruption, and political oppression.

Social commentary: Romanian cinema often serves as a form of social commentary, using its stories and characters to explore broader issues facing Romanian society, such as corruption, the legacy of communism, and the struggle for personal freedom and identity.

Minimalism: Many Romanian movies are characterized by a minimalist style, with sparse dialogue, long takes, and a focus on small, intimate moments rather than big, dramatic set pieces.

This approach allows the films to create a sense of intimacy and realism, and to explore the inner lives of their characters in a more nuanced and subtle way.

3 Reasons To Watch Romanian Movies

Unique storytelling: Romanian cinema is known for its unique and innovative storytelling techniques, often employing long takes, naturalistic acting, and a focus on everyday life.

Many Romanian films explore complex social and political issues, as well as the struggles of ordinary people in the face of challenging circumstances.

International acclaim: Romanian cinema has received international acclaim in recent years, with many films winning awards at major film festivals around the world.

Some of the most well-known Romanian films include “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu,” and “Police, Adjective.” Watching Romanian movies can expose you to the work of talented filmmakers and actors, and broaden your understanding of global cinema.

Cultural insights: Romania has a rich cultural history, and watching Romanian movies can provide insights into the country’s traditions, values, and ways of life.

Whether exploring the experiences of people living under communism, grappling with poverty and inequality, or trying to make sense of the rapid changes of the modern era, Romanian cinema offers a unique perspective on the human experience.

Best Romanian Movies – Wrap Up

Romania has a rich tradition of cinema, with a number of acclaimed filmmakers and actors who have gained international recognition for their work. Some of the best Romanian movies that have received critical acclaim and won awards include:

“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (2007) – directed by Cristian Mungiu, this film is a powerful and harrowing drama about two women in communist Romania who seek an illegal abortion.

“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” (2005) – directed by Cristi Puiu, this film is a darkly comic and deeply affecting drama about a dying man’s journey through Romania’s underfunded healthcare system.

“Police, Adjective” (2009) – directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, this film is a minimalist and thought-provoking exploration of the ethics of policing and justice in contemporary Romania.

“Child’s Pose” (2013) – directed by Calin Peter Netzer, this film is a searing family drama about a wealthy woman who tries to protect her son from the consequences of a fatal car accident.

“Tales from the Golden Age” (2009) – directed by Cristian Mungiu, Ioana Uricaru, Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, and Constantin Popescu, this film is a collection of short stories about life under communism in Romania.

“Beyond the Hills” (2012) – directed by Cristian Mungiu, this film is a gripping and intense drama about a young woman’s struggle against the forces of religious conservatism in contemporary Romania.

These are just a few examples of the many outstanding Romanian movies that have been produced over the years.

Romanian cinema is known for its social realism, intellectual depth, and uncompromising honesty, and continues to be a vital and vibrant part of the country’s cultural identity.