He may not be a big name in the UK, but on the international stage Radu Muntean is gaining considerable acclaim. With numerous awards under his belt, the Bucharest-born director is in the UK to promote the critically acclaimed Tuesday, After Christmas. He's also taking part in the East Meets East project, working alongside other stars of the Romanian New Wave to help young Londoners develop their filmmaking talents.
"The system here is quite different," says Radu of his experiences in London. "In Romania all films are co-financed by the state. I don't make a profit out of screenings in theatres and I never expect to make a lot of money out of it. On the other hand you have the chance to film how you like, with your own artistic view."
This is particularly important for Radu because he both writes and directs, and having full control throughout enables him to bring his vision to the screen unfiltered. "I choose my subject, the producer helps me to finance the film somehow and then I'm completely in charge," he explains. "It's a nice feeling, being responsible for everything."
With Tuesday, After Christmas, Radu took an apparently simple idea and revealed its hidden depths. "The starting point was the idea of a man who's in love with two women in very different ways but, I think, equally intensely," he says. "He's also reached a point in his life where he's searching for his happiness, but to find it he has to sacrifice something. It's a common subject but for me it's interesting because of the way I tried to tackle it. I hope for the audience it will be the same. I tried to make a very honest film about responsibilities, guilt and hard choices, and I think that's where the tensions in the film come from."
Meeting young London filmmakers is clearly a learning experience for Radu and his colleagues just as it is for them. He tells me about a recent discussion with 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days star Anamaria Marinca in which she agreed that the UK system of pitching for a project is something quite different, and he's interested in knowing how it works.
"The Romanian Cultural Institute invited me to be part of this and for me it was interesting because it was a chance to meet young people from London who are interested in cinema," he says of the project. "They're just taking their first steps towards what they want to do and they're very committed to learning about cinema." Most already have some background in cinema and some technical skills but are just at the start of learning how to apply them.
The project, based at Four Corners, is still in its early days but is developing fast. Radu tells me about their first meeting, which involved writing a short script, and their plans to shoot it in three different ways. "We'll have three different directors, each with their own view. Then we'll analyse the way the same script can result in three different films. It's a useful way to start learning what it's all about."
We're hoping to catch up with Radu later on, when the project has developed further, and to hear from some of the young people involved.
Tuesday, After Christmas is currently available to buy on DVD.