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12:08 East of Bucharest
(A fost sau n-a fost?)

Screening on Film
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu.
With Mircea Andreescu, Teodor Corban, Ion Sapadaru.
Romania, 2006, 35mm, color, 89 min.
Romanian with English subtitles.

Porumbiou’s fastidious camera hangs back for the first part of the film, as if it is an interloper peeking into the middle of specific domestic scenes within the Romanian town of Vaslui—the director’s hometown. The three main characters amble in and out of small apartments, debt, hatred, ridicule and fidelity until they all finally coalesce on a low-budget TV talk show around the theme of whether or not there really was a revolution in Vaslui in 1989. Jderescu, the host, persists on earnestly pursuing this question with his two “experts”—a troublesome alcoholic and an erstwhile Santa Claus—while managing irate callers and a young cameraman who can barely keep everyone in frame. Over the course of the program, mismatched memories of the revolution reveal more cowardice, fear, resentment and degeneracy—all of the personal debris left out of mythic history. By the end, Jderescu finally receives from his amateur cinematographer, “a close-up, for once.”

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