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Radu Jude: ‘I Really Don’t Believe Oscars Have Anything to Do with Cinema’

Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude has a pile of awards to his name — including a 2021 Berlinale Golden Bear for “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” — and isn’t too stressed about Academy Awards.

The provocation-making director, whose politically-bristly latest “Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” arrives in select U.S. theaters next week, has repped Romania four times in the Best International Feature Oscar race — including for “Do Not Expect Too Much.” He’s never even been shortlisted, and as he told IndieWire in a recent Zoom conversation from his homeland, where he’s already at work on new films, he’s never even watched the Oscars.

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“I don’t care about the type of cinema that is promoted by the Oscars. I mean, most of them,” he said. “Of course, I watch [the films]. I appreciate some of them. I like very much Martin Scorsese’s film, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ It’s really important. I really like some of the foreign-language films, so I’m interested to watch [them]. I’m interested in all cinema.”

“A small experimental film or a big American film is equally interesting for different reasons,” Jude continued. “Of course, I want to see ‘Dune 2’ soon, so I am really interested in watching all this.” (The Warner Bros. release is now playing in Romania.)

Jude’s “Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” did not make the International Feature Oscar shortlist for this year — it’s not exactly the fare the Academy goes for anyway — and that’s a good thing. The 164-minute drama, told mostly in black and white, follows overworked production assistant Angela (Ilinca Manolache) as she races through Bucharest to assemble a workplace safety video for a multinational corporation, led imperiously by Nina Hoss as a CEO who also claims to be the great German writer Goethe’s great-great-granddaughter. Fusing documentary and narrative, “Do Not Expect Too Much” skewers neoliberal European politics and the gig economy while lampooning the film industry — it’s also hilarious, unpretentious, and challenges you to rethink all that goes into the production of images.

“When we think about Oscars, I really don’t believe Oscars have anything to do with cinema,” Jude said. “It’s just a kind of cheap show for stars, for showing dresses, for showing diamonds and those kinds of things. I’m not saying that they’re not important for the destiny of a film or for the career of a film or of filmmakers. Of course they are, but I don’t imagine myself being there, and I don’t even have an interest.”

Romania’s only International Feature Oscar nominee since it began submitting frequently as far back as 1966 was 2020’s “Collective,” directed by Alexander Nanau. (Cristian Mungiu got close, making the shortlist in 2012 for “Beyond the Hills.”)

Jude added, “I never watched the Oscars, for instance, never in my life. Whenever there’s something like the slapping of that guy…you see it after.”

But that’s not because he’s above it or anything — he just prefers to watch from afar.

“I feel a little bit bad because it might sound like a superiority thing, which it’s not. I don’t watch other things. I don’t watch TV series that much, for instance — very, very little,” he said. “And I am not saying they’re bad or they shouldn’t exist. I know a lot of people who are binging and watching TV series. I just don’t, because you know why? I am interested very much in structures…and TV series, they all have the same format, most of them, again and again, and again and again. And even if they’re great, if they’re good, well, I don’t care. I prefer to watch TikTok videos.”

MUBI opens “Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World” in select theaters on March 22.

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