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12:08 East of Bucharest
1208 East of Bucharest
Actors: Mircea Andreescu, Teodor Corban, Ion Sapdaru, Mirela Cioaba, Luminita Gheorghiu
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Television
UR     2007     1hr 29min

(Black Comedy) 16 years after the Revolution and just days before Christmas, a local television station in Bucharest has invited several guests to share their moments of glory, as they allegedly stormed city hall, chanting...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Mircea Andreescu, Teodor Corban, Ion Sapdaru, Mirela Cioaba, Luminita Gheorghiu
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Creators: Marius Panduru, Corneliu Porumboiu, Roxana Szel, Daniel Burlac
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Drama
Studio: Tartan Video
Format: DVD - Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/09/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Before the "Revolution"
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 08/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I first saw "12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?)" last year at the International Chicago Film Festival, where I absolutely fell in love with it. I thought it was the best film I saw at the festival. Since then I have went on and on about how funny the film was. Today it opened in Chicago and I went to see it again. Some of the magic was gone after a second viewing but that probably has more to do with me then the film.

The film is the directorial debut of Corneliu Porumboiu, whom prior to this had only directed two short films. "12:08 East of Bucharest" comes on the heels of a sudden rush of interest in Romanian cinema. Last year "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" was distributed here, which was one of my favorite films of the year, and this year the winner of the golden palm at the Cannes Film Festival was also a Romanian film entitled "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 saptamini si 2 zile)".

This film puts into question whether or not a certain town in Romania took part in the revolution on December 22nd, 1989. A local television show, hosted by Virgil Jderescu (Teodor Corban) is going to celebrate the sixteenth anniversary of that fateful day. On the show will be two guest, each of whom claim to have been there. Tiberiu Manescu (Ion Sapdaru, who appeared in one of Porumboiu's short films, "A Trip to the City" and is also in "The Paper Will Be Blue", also dealing with the Romanian Revolution) is a history teacher, with several debts, and a slight drinking problem. He says he and three other teachers showed up at the town square to protest and rejoice at the decline of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and the end of communism.

The other guest, Emanoil Piscoci (Mircea Andreescu), known by everyone for playing Santa Clause, says he didn't show up at the town square until he saw on television there was a revolt. But each man states assuredly there was a revolt in their town.

Soon things get a little complicated as viewers call in and start to dispute with the guest. Everyone claims to have been there but no one can agree on a time they were there.

At the heart of "12:08 East of Bucharest" is a story about our collective memories and the blurry line between fact and fiction. Did a revolt happen in the town or do the residents just think it did because of the celebrating they saw on tv? Also into question is the idea of what makes a hero? When the host of the show trys to pin down one of the guest on whether he showed up before or after "12:08", the time of the revolution, the guest responds, "one trys to makes what revolution they can."

When we look at "12:08 East of Bucharest" in this light it is comparable to Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Spider's Stratagem", which was also a story about fact and fiction. Both films question history and our idea of heroes.

When I first saw this film I thought it was one of the all-time great political satires. On par with such films as "Duck Soup", "Diplomaniacs" and "Million Dollar Legs". Now after a second viewing it didn't seem as off-the-wall to me. I also thought it was one of the best Romanian films I had ever seen. Now after seeing such films as "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" and several movies by Nicolae Margineanu, I'm not so sure about that. But despite everything "12:08 East of Bucharest" does bring up some interesting ideas. There is some substance to this story. Especially in a world with stories about Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. What makes a hero? Does the government ever blend fact and fiction? Is a lie ever more important then the truth?

I may not be as overcomed with joy with "12:08 East of Bucharest" as I was when I first saw it but the film still seems fresh and I did laugh at it several times. Maybe I just need to see it again...

Bottom-line: Corneliu Porumboiu's directorial debut is a fresh and funny film questioning our ideas on fact and fiction, history and heroes. It may turn out to be one of the year's best films."
'The Human Comedy'
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 05/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In America it's frequently a topic of conversation: "Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated?" Most likely for another generation it will be, "Where were you during the events of 9/11?" For Romania's `12:08 East of Bucharest,' television talk show host, Jderescu (Ion Sapdara), asks the big question: "Was there a Revolution?" Referring to the events of Christmas, 1989, when Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was executed, Jderescu questions two guests during a panel discussion, seeking the true nature of those events. His guest experts are Emanoil Piscoci (Mircea Andreescus), the elder, and Professor Tiberia Manescu (Teo Corban), the younger, two dullards who understandably have difficulty making a commitment to their testimony. The core of his interview attempts to show where they were and what part did they play during those life-changing events.

Part human comedy, part gentle satire, the film zeroes in on the lives of these three men with all their mundane wrappings to reveal an amusing and honest portrait of regular people during revolutionary events. What I like about this film is that it uses a feather rather than a mallet to debunk the romantic notions of bravery and folklore to get at the truth of the matter.

Before the interview we find Jderescu, an alcoholic who drives up debt and has a superficial friendship with a Chinese fireworks salesman. Noting that, like Italy, Romania is prone to celebrate Christmas with firecrackers, the film finds opportunities to show annoying pranksters taking advantage of a noisy novelty during a central holiday--like we do for the Fourth of July. The Professor comes across like a paper tiger as he tries to intimidate his students, yet assigns them an elective term topic about The French Revolution. Meanwhile, Emanoil is readying his worn Santa Claus suit.

Also marking the anniversary of Romania's independence from Communism, the movie first makes us care about it's participants; then, it has them stumbling over each other on television. There's no good in giving samples, but Virgil states explicitly there is to be no profanity while they are on the air. The second funny factor is the call-in format. Several people call the host; some of them are acquaintances who contradict the testimony of the allegedly expert witnesses. Arguments ensue as Virgil tries to mediate the increasing chaos.

Besides a warm and funny script, '12:08 East of Bucharest' has an easy hook. The film identifies its characters so easily that the most subtitle intolerant will find the movie richly rewarding. Just like 'The Death of Mr. Lazarescu' before it,' (but not as real-time taxing) the acting is almost documentary authentic. I can think of Ion Sapdaru as being the comic Romanian equivalent of Bob Newhart, except that misses the target. Instead of a man with a plastered smile, a blushing face, and sputtering speech, we see him stumble with a composure that begins to unravel in real life measures.

To make a comparison in the U.S., it has sometimes been said that more people have bragged of attending Woodstock than actually were there. And that is the heart of this movie. Without a mean-spirited bone in its body, `12:08 East of Bucharest' pokes fun at the difference between human folklore and human fact."
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 07/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"*** 2006. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. Two prizes in Cannes and a European Film award nomination in the Best Screenplay category. In a small Romanian city, a TV journalist invites two guests for his afternoon talk-show. The debate will be about this unanswered question: was it or wasn't it a revolution in the town sixteen years before, in December 1989 ? Well, I liked the black humor of the film, I liked the Romanian language that is so close to French and Italian, in short I liked the first half of the movie. The second half of 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST which features Virgil Jderescu's TV program is in my opinion of lower quality and fails to create, in the viewer's mind or heart, empathy or simply some interest for the situation or the characters involved. A DVD zone discovery."
12.08 east of Bucharest
Lidia Rich | USA | 10/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The characters are richly portrayed and quite believable as colorful, local personalities. With a very small budget and cast (maybe 5-6 people?) this is independent film making at its best. At a discussion after the American premiere at Telluride, the director said that he was inspired to write 12:08 after witnessing just such a program on a local television station, also years after the fact. Very rewarding and worth investing 90 minutes for.