Beyond the Hills

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This harrowing, visually stunning new film from director Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), inspired by a real-life case of an exorcism gone wrong, unfolds in and around a remote Romanian monastery where pious young women toil dutifully under the ever-watchful eye of an austere priest known as Papa (Valeriu Andriuta). Into this private and isolated world comes Alina (Cristina Flutur), a young woman who arrives to visit Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), one of the nuns in training. Alina tries to talk her friend into leaving this cloistered life behind and return with her to Germany. Unable to convince her, the visitor decides to stay on a while, upsetting the order’s delicate balance of power and setting off a dangerous chain reaction that holds terrifying consequences for them all. Based on a true story of alleged demonic possession and exorcism that occurred in Romania’s Moldova region in 2005, Beyond the Hills is not a supernatural thriller but rather an all too believable portrait of dogma at odds with personal liberty in a society still emerging from the shadow of Communism. For their remarkable lead performances, screen newcomers Flutur and Stratan shared the Best Actress prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Mungiu also received the Best Screenplay award. (Dir. by Christian Mungi, 2012, Romania/France/Belgium, in Romanian with subtitles, 150 mins., Not Rated, IFC Films) Digital