Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

Police, Adjective 2009

Politist, adjectiv

Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu

“Another triumph for the new Romanian cinema, this wry, witty account of a policeman’s lot is politically, philosophically and linguistically astute – and formally audacious as drama.” — Sight & Sound

Romania In Romanian with English subtitles
113 minutes

Director, Producer, Screenplay


Marius Panduru


Roxana Szel

Production designer

Mihaela Poenaru

Costume designer

Giorgiana Bostan


Alex Dragomir
Sebastian Zsemlye


Dragos Bucur (Cristi)
Vlad Ivanov (Anghelache)
Irina Saulescu (Anca)
Ion Stoica (Nelu)
Marian Ghenea (the prosecutor)
Cosmin Selesi (Costi)
Serban Georgevici (Sic)
George Remes (Vali)
Adina Dulcu (Dana)
Dan Cogalniceanu (Gic)
Costi Dita (officer on duty)
Alexandru Sabadac (Alex)
Anca Diaconu (Doina)
Radu Costin (Victor)
Viorel Nebunu (Alex’s father)
Emanoela Tigla (Alex’s mother)
Daniel Barsan (bartender)
Bungeanu Mioara (shopkeeper)


Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Toronto, New York, Vancouver 2009; Rotterdam 2010


Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and Critics' Prize, Cannes Film Festival 2009


In this subtle, wryly ironic, anti-police procedural, Cristi, a young plainclothes detective, is assigned the case of three high school kids who have been reported smoking dope. Certain that the draconian laws they may be breaking are an outdated hangover from the communist era, he’s reluctant to collar them. He’s nonetheless obliged to stalk them for hour upon hour, and translate their banal comings and goings into data for the police dossiers that will be used to prosecute them.
Romanian Corneliu Porumboiu’s (12:08 East of Bucharest, NZIFF06) acutely minimalist film takes its pace from the tedium of objective surveillance, and its barbed intellectual vitality from the concomitant process of ‘defining’ what’s unfolding before our eyes. Semantics can be fun in Porumboiu’s world: Cristi and his wife happily banter about the meaning of the lyrics of a corny pop song. But as the title suggests, words can also be used as instruments of enforcement. — BG

“A remarkably self-effacing and highly intelligent comedy… a philosophical crime film that, as the investigation of an investigation, substitutes irony for suspense… Made by one who grew up in a police state (note the adjectival use) and watched it fall apart, Police, Adjective is a deadly serious as well as dryly humorous analysis of bureaucratic procedure and, particularly, the tyranny of language. Images may record reality, but words define it. In the end, Police, Adjective ponders the nature of moral obligation, something that might apply to filmmakers as well as police detectives.” — J. Hoberman, Village Voice

“Another triumph for the new Romanian cinema.” — Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

“One of the most significant talents of the Romanian New Wave... Police, Adjective is sure to emerge as one of the festival highlights. Not to be missed.” — Steven Garden, The Lumiere Reader