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Making Irreverent Humor Relevant with 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn' Writer-Director Radu Jude

'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn' writer-director Radu Jude speaks with Script's Editor Sadie Dean about shaping the film's story, his collaboration with his cinematographer, and the legacy he hopes to leave behind as a storyteller.
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Emi, a school teacher, finds her career and reputation under threat after a personal sex tape is leaked on the Internet. Forced to meet the parents demanding her dismissal, Emi refuses to surrender to their pressure. Radu Jude (Aferim!) delivers an incendiary mix of unconventional form, irreverent humor and scathing commentary on hypocrisy and prejudice in our societies. 

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn takes you, the casual viewer, on a wild ride from the opening scene to fade out. Filmmaker Radu Jude masterfully interweaves a seriously satirical storyline with a very observant view on the underbelly of Bucharest society. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Radu about shaping this story, his collaboration with his cinematographer, and the legacy he hopes to leave behind as a storyteller.

BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Sadie Dean: How did you land on this overall story idea?

Radu Jude: It's always a complicated process where an idea comes from for a film because being a filmmaker, it means you have one or two or three or four ideas every day or every week. And some just get lost in the process and some develop and then die. My mind is always on this work, in a way. And at some point, there was news on very bad press websites, very dirty about a similar case like that. And the press was really terrible towards this poor teacher. And the comments especially, it was the time before Facebook, so the comments were on the website, and they were all dirty, insulting, and so on. So that somehow stayed in my head. And at some point, I decided, after some discussions with friends, which proved to be a very heated topic. I said, ‘Well, I should make a film about that.’ And then little by little, it took the shape that you saw, this is how it started, more or less.

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Sadie: I love how you break it up into three parts and then the three alternate endings. In terms of story development, how did you break down those individual pieces? And especially that part two, it's so beautiful and it’s educational!

Radu: At some point in this process of constructing the film and of thinking about it, I somehow realized that it's another story itself, which can be probably made in 30 minutes or 40 minutes, that it's interesting. Apart from the story, I think what's more interesting than the story is what is around it? How does this story connect with these important themes of our contemporary society? Like living in a digital world, the limit between privacy, and public sphere, morality issues, educational issues, the relationship between morality and education, all these things somehow get together in the film, and in the story actually. So, I said at some point, that maybe it would be more interesting to speak about these connections, and to make these connections the topic of the film, not only the story itself, so little by little, I needed another form, another shape to put this material into and this shape became this very fragmentary narrative with the elements which are theoretical or poetical, sometimes it is a very poetical structure.

Radu Jude, director of BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo credit: Silviu Ghetie. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Picture.

Radu Jude, director of BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo credit: Silviu Ghetie. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Picture.

Sadie: And speaking of poetic, I really enjoyed the camera movement and how we see Amelia in the frame and then we kind turn away and observe what's going on around her. What was that creative collaboration and process like with your DP Marius Panduru?

Radu: That's a good question. Marius Panduru, who's a very good director of photography and a friend, but is a little bit conservative when it comes to challenge the rules of filmmaking, he said, ‘But why do we follow like that? We need the character to move the camera.’ [laughs] But then we discussed it more and he was extremely cooperative. The idea was to make not only it observational like a documentary film, but also to create some juxtapositions between the character and her story, of course, and what is around in a chaotic city like Bucharest. What things are still visible, the relations, the classes, the strata, are quite still visible. It's like a theory, it's like, can we see something? If we move the camera and look around at the billboards or buildings, cars, whatever it is, and well, my answer is yes. The viewers can say, ‘Well, no, I think that's very stupid,’ well then, I'm wrong. But this was the idea.

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Sadie: You've had a very successful film career, what inspired you to become a filmmaker?

Radu: I grew up in a communist dictatorship. I always I'm amazed when I read interviews or texts by Quentin Tarantino, or Steven Spielberg, or people like that who always say, ‘When I was eight years old, I had an eight-millimeter camera,’ or ‘I was writing screenplays,’ and so on and so forth. Romania at that time, I never knew that films existed. I never knew that there are people who make them. I come from a family that is not intellectual or artistic, it appeared extremely late in my development, like in high school because that was a time where many things seemed possible, all of a sudden, and it was a few years after the 1989 revolution, and Bucharest Cinematheque started to program very interesting films. It's a poor Cinematheque, but still, they did a lot of good programs. And I started to go there. And then little by little, this passion crystallized into the question, ‘What if I would try to become a filmmaker?’ And of course, everybody would tell you, are you crazy? Or do you think you're in Hollywood?

I started and things developed, even here, as television developed. You could have a job because they had a lot of jobs like an assistant director or director for television programs, for music videos, for commercials, for teleshopping. And then it proved possible to make films.

A scene from BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

A scene from BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Sadie: I'm curious about the casting process, every character is so unique.

Radu: Katia Pascariu who plays the main character, she's a professional actress mostly in the very independent and underground and political theater. She's extremely hardworking and very easy to work with. And the others are also professional actors I used to work with. I had two or three TV actors from Romanian television, popular bedtime humor - I adore bedtime humor, so I invited them to be a part of the film as well.

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Sadie: It's a great cast. What kind of stories are you drawn to tell?

BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Radu: I can answer you with a story about the author Balzac, the French writer. At some point, apparently, he realized, and he said, ‘What if I write stories or books or novels about all the aspects of French society of my time,’ and this is how his body of work that we know today to be called the Human Comedy appeared. So, I think I would like to be somebody like Balzac, to have this kind of desire to speak about so many aspects of the society and of the culture of our times, and of our history that they can become a body of work.

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn is available in select theaters on November 19, 2021.


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