12:08pm on the 22 December 1989 was the exact time of Ceausescu's fall from power in Romania. Sixteen years on, a provincial TV talk show decides to commemorate the event by asking local heroes to reminisce about their own contributions to the revolution. But securing suitable guests proves an unexpected challenge and the producer is left with two less than ideal participants - a drink addled history teacher and a retired and lonely sometime-Santa Claus grateful for the company. In the farcical show that follows, the men's fanciful boasts of rebellious glory are hilariously disputed by phone-ins from viewers who recall an altogether different version of events. With entertainingly wry humour, Corneliu Promboiu's debut feature sharply satirises the short memories and inconsistencies of postrevolutionary Romania.
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: Romanian ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN, SPECIAL FEATURES: Biographies, Cast/Crew Interview(s), Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: At the beginning of "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon," Karl Marx famously observes that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. He forgot to add that the commemoration of history can raise farce to a whole new level of absurdity. This, at any rate, is among the insights offered by the Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu's acutely funny first feature, "12:08 East of Bucharest." "Was there, or was there not, a revolution in our town?" This question (summed up in the movie's Romanian title, "A Fost sau n-a fost?") is asked by Mr. Jderescu (Teo Corban), a television talk-show host who has hastily assembled a panel of nobodies to look back, 16 years later, at the events of Dec. 22, 1989. Their town, Vaslui, where Mr. Porumboiu grew up, is depicted, not without affection, as a drab, rundown place where it is hard to imagine very much happening at all. Mr. Porumboiu's film is, at first glance, as rumpled and unassuming as its weary, fatalistic inhabitants. Though it is modest, almost anecdotal, in scale, "12:08 East of Bucharest" is also characterized by a precise and sneaky formal wit. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Cannes Film Festival, European Film Awards, ...12:08 East of Bucharest ( A fost sau n-a fost? )