12.08 East of Bucharest
On 22 December 1989, the Romanian Revolution that was to see the end of Communist rule and the execution of long-standing Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had spread to most major cities. It was a day of rebellion, demonstration and change that few were to forget. It is from this idea of shared consciousness that Romanian writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu’s builds this funny, touching and occasionally profound drama.
It is 16 years after the overthrow of Ceausescu, and in the small town of Christmas, retired busybody Piscoci (Mircea Andreescu), impoverished local history teacher Manescu (Ion Sapdaru) and self aggrandising Jderescu (Teodor Corban), the owner of a local radio station, come together to remember the night of demonstration and rebellion that played out in their town all those years ago. What unfolds is an evening of false memory, subjectivity and deadpan humour.
Clever, accessible and full of incidental detail, Porumboiu’s multi award-winning, genuinely likeable film is further proof of the rise and rise of Romanian cinema in the past few years from 2005’s remarkable The Death of Mr Lazarescu to this year’s Palme d’Or winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days by Cristian Mungiu. In terms of cinematic reformation, Bucharest and its surrounds have never been hotter. The key to the beauty of all these films would seem to lie in William Blake’s description of mankind before the Fall in Proverbs of Hell: ‘The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands and feet Proportion.’ Highly recommended. (Paul Dale)
GFT, Glasgow from Fri 7–Thu 13 Sep.