Corneliu Porumboiu • Romania • 2006 • Three men ask an age-old question: whose revolution was it?
It’s December 22nd in Vaslui, a small town in Romania. A few days before Christmas, and also the anniversary of the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu and thus the fall of communism. Three aging men go about their daily lives—Piscoci, a pensioner, prepares to spend another holiday alone, while Manescu, an alcoholic history teacher, pays some of his debts. Jderescu, a local television host, cheats on his wife with one of his producers. To commemorate the revolution, these three men convene for a televised broadcast to discuss the events of that day some 16 years prior. Only no one can precisely recall where they happened to be, or what has changed since.
Infused with flashes of deadpan comedy, 12:08 East of Bucharest assesses notions of truth, memory, and history in post-Soviet Romania. Corneliu Porumboiu’s directorial debut premiered at Transilvania, where it won Best Romanian Film and the Audience Award; Copenhagen, where it won Best Film and Best Screenplay; and Cannes, where it won the Camera d’Or for best first film. 12:08 East of Bucharest is a New York Times Critic’s Pick.