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Elina Lowensohn était notre invitée lors de la séance de ciné-club Objectif Cinéma du mois de novembre 2006. Nous lui avons proposé une chronique, elle a accepté...

12:08 à l’est de Bucharest

I met Cornel Porumboiu, in April of last year, in a chic Parisian cafe. Through another Romanian friend, the contact was made, and so, because I am Romanian, the Romanians think, a Romanian should meet another Romanian, as well as both of us were also in the cinema. He seemed like a really nice guy, quite humble, but sure of himself, telling me that he made his film in about two months, writing and directing it. He did not live in the capital, and he was going to get married that summer to a French woman, and they were both going to continue living in Romania.

A fost sau nu a fost or 12:08 a l’Est de Bucharest, is his Romanian film which won the Camera d’Or at Cannes last year. And it makes me proud, because even though I feel a foreigner when I visit Romania, I am still very much a Romanian in my heart, and after the revelation of Cristi Puiu, here came Corneliu Porumboiu proving that new talent is emerging from this country which during the dictatorship under Ceausescu, did not have opportunities for expressing itself in anyway, including the arts. Fear was gripping the country, and as a child living there, I felt this fear that I still hold within myself in front of any kind of authority. And also as a child I remember going to the cinema, and the only Romanian films that existed were those with History as a subject...the glorious history of the country, and boring movies they were.

I loved Porumboiu’s film, and its humor touched me even so much more because I understood the subtleties through the language, which could not be really translated in the subtitles. It made a commentary on the Romanians themselves as well as humans in general.

The Romanians have an open personality, very Latin in that way, ready to be there and help, and also ready to talk behind one’s back, criticizing, gossiping, and so on. They also have had this talent of making fun out of miserable situations, a humor which exists deep in the culture of the in The Death of Mr. Lazarescu...while the main character is getting sicker and sicker, the neighbor wants to offer him some pig jelly, a sort of traditional dish, very heavy for digestion. Also in 12:08 a l’est de Bucharest, the televised show, is so funny to me because it portrays the empty endless discussions which can take place among Romanians, bringing demons out of closets, arguments adding up to nothing in the end, criticisms and an absurd time passed on debates which in the end, make no sense.