12:08 East of Bucharest DVD
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Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu
Produced in 2006
Main Language - Romanian with English subtitles
'What's all the fuss about revolution? No-one could care less anymore,' says the production assistant when local TV show host Virgil Jderescu announces that the topic for his afternoon talk show will be what part the citizens of his provincial town played in the revolutionary events of December 22nd 1989, the day sixteen years previously when communist dictator Nicolae Ceau?escu fled from Bucharest. Given that the answer seems to be absolutely none, and that his hilariously ramshackle show degenerates into recriminations, threats and embarrassing revelations as one caller after another phones in to say that events were nothing like those recalled by guest Professor Tiberio Manescu, teacher and town drunk, who claims that he and his colleagues were in the town square on the day, shouting ‘Communism is Dead!’, it seems that Virgil should have taken her advice. On he ploughs regardless: 'Heraclitus said’ (he’s fond of the Heraclitus quote) ‘you can't step in the same river twice, but let us jump back to 16 years ago, because we love the truth, it's healthy.'
Bracketed by lovely scenes of streetlights going off in the blue-green light of dawn and then on again as snow covers the ground at dusk, this is a film of two halves. The first is a deft and humorous portrait of the interconections of small-town life – ‘old man’ Piscosi is plagued by kids with firecrackers, when he gets drunk Manescu insults the town's Chinese immigrant, from whose shop the children buy their firecrackers – marked by a finely-judged sense of timing and editing that led Porumboiu to win a number of international awards, not least the Camera d'Or at Cannes in 2006 for the best debut feature. The second half is the makeshift live show in which Manescu and Piscosi appear. Both halves are suffused with a mordantly funny undercurrent of hopelessness, punctuated by numerous laugh-out-loud moments, but there are serious points here too – about commemorating, mythmaking and forgetting. ‘The clearer the past, the clearer the future will be,’ says Virgil, which is to say, not very clear at all.
Graeme Hobbs on 30th October 2007
Author of 294 reviews
A comedy satire punctuated by laugh-out-loud moments and underscored by a mordantly funny undercurrent of hopelessness, Porumboiu's film won a number of international awards, including the Camera d'Or at Cannes in 2006 for the best debut feature.
It is a film of two halves. The first part deftly paints a portrait of the interconnections of small-town life, while the second half is taken up with a hilarious depiction of a live phone-in discussion on a makeshift provincial TV station's talk show, 'Issue of the Day'. As it's the 16th anniversary of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, that day's particular issue is whether or not the citizens of the town participated in the great events. Although guest Professor (and town drunk) Tiberiu Manescu says he did, the callers phone in to try and persuade him otherwise.
Publisher: Artificial Eye
Length: 86 mins
Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Wide Screen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 3rd December 2007
Cat No: ART358DVD
- Interview with Corneliu Porumboiu
- Director biography.