The Second Game

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    The Second Game

    Al doilea joc

    Directed by



    97 min

    • Romanian


    A deceptively simple set-up: the director and his father watch a 1988 football match which the father refereed, their commentary accompanying the original television images in real time. A Bucharest derby between the country’s leading teams, Dinamo and Steaua, taking place in heavy snow, one year before the revolution that toppled Ceaușescu. The conditions are difficult at best, the play hardly sparkling. One match among many, the standard game of two halves, yellow intertitles marking time and grainy video images which merge with the snow: the perfectly unspectacular basis for a foray into the conditional. What if the ball hadn’t hit the crossbar? What if the referee had bowed to pressure and favoured one team? What if the camera had actually shown the brief ruckus on the pitch? What if the match had taken place one year later? What if snow had stopped the game from taking place at all? An endless chain of imaginary second games spiralling off from the first, each with different images, different scorelines, different allegiances, and different significances. If you were to ask which football game says the most about everything, I would tell you it is the one which is most banal.


    • Romanian Days Award for Best Film - Transilvania IFF
    • Special Jury Mention, International Competition - Astra FF



    Adrian Porumboiu
    Corneliu Porumboiu
    Corneliu Porumboiu
    Max Richter
    SC 42 KM FILM


    ...the improbable meeting point of Romanian New Wave, ESPN & Mystery Science Theater.

    Guy Lodge, Variety

    Fortunately, Corneliu Porumboiu is a director and his father – a referee, not vice versa.

    Yoana Pavlova,

    Corneliu Porumboiu

    Corneliu Porumboiu


    Corneliu Porumboiu was born in 1975 in Vaslui. He studied film at the I.L.Caragiale University in Bucharest and received his degree in 2003. He made his first short film, GRAFFITI, in 2000. The two following short films he directed drew international attention: A TRIP TO THE CITY (Cinéfondation’s second prize in 2004), followed by LIVIU'S DREAM. In his first feature film, 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST, Porumboiu offers a very humorous view of Romania’s 1989 revolution. The film was presented in Cannes at the Directors’ Fortnight in 2006 and won the Caméra d’Or. Corneliu Porumboiu carried on subtly combining his work on cinematic form with a dissection of the Romanian society in POLICE, ADJECTIVE, selected for Un Certain Regard in 2009 (Jury Prize and Fipresci Prize). In 2014, his film, THE SECOND GAME had its world premiere at the Berlinale Forum. While, in 2015 he returned to Cannes in the 'Un Certain Regard' selection with THE TREASURE, that won the Un Certain Talent prize. The film also screened at Sarajevo FF and at Transilvania IFF, where it won the Best Romanian Film Award. His latest film THE WHISTLERS (2019) is competing for the Palme d'Or at the 2019 edition of the Festival de Cannes.

    Selected Filmography