Directed by Radu Jude • 2020 • Romania
Starring Bogdan Zamfir, Serban Lazarovici, Ioana Iacob
In 1981, chalk slogans written in uppercase letters started appearing in public spaces in the Romanian city of Botoșani. They demanded freedom, alluded to the democratic developments taking place in Romania’s socialist sister countries, or simply called for improvements in the food supply. The culprit was Mugur Călinescu, a teenager whose case is documented in the files of the Romanian secret police. These files form the basis of Gianina Cărbunariu’s documentary play, filmed by Radu Jude in this screen version that interpolates archival footage from Romanian TV of the era. Cooking shows alternate with interrogations, transcripts of wiretapped phone calls with recommendations to exercise instead of taking sedatives. This dialectical montage creates an image of a dictatorial surveillance state, drawing on the authorized popular entertainment of the Ceaușescu regime in order to unmask it.