Cineast 2019: 12:08 East of Bucharest
Original title: A fost sau n-a fost?, Romania 2006, Comedy, 89 min. VO EN subtitles, 12+
Directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, Screenplay by Corneliu Porumboiu, Produced by Corneliu Porumboiu, Daniel Burlac, Cast: Mircea Andreescu, Teodor Corban, Ion Sapdaru
Corneliu Porumboiu’s highly acclaimed feature film debut tests the limits of memory-based recent history and spices the mix of ordinary lives and hot air with a good shot of xenophobia, East European humour and the odd reference to Jacques Tati.
In the director’s hometown of Vaslui, which could be any small Romanian town, the vain owner of a local TV station pretends to ascertain whether the revolution that rid Romania of its communist regime had also occurred on their main square. The answer, to be given at a live talk show filmed with a (relatively) fixed camera, hinges on the precise timeline of the whereabouts of the far from heroic witnesses he could summon: an alcoholic and debt-ridden history teacher, and a retiree whom everyone knows as a Santa Claus of last resort.