Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Countries & Regions: Romania
Length: 86 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 3 December 2007
Cat No: ART358DVD
Screen ratio 1:1.78
Dolby Digital 5.1
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12:08 East of Bucharest
Witty satirical comedy examining people’s recollections of the Romanian revolution of 1989. 12:08pm on the 22 December 1989 was the exact... Read More
'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.