The whole country watched live an tele-vision as angry crowds forced Romanian dictator Ceausescu to flee Bucharest by helicopter. In a quiet town east of the capital, sixteen years since this historic day, the owner of the local TV station invites two guests to share their mo-ments of revolutionary glory. One is an old retiree and sometime Santa Claus, the other a history teacher who has just devoted his entire salary to his drinking debts. Together they will remember the day when they stormed their town hall calling "down with Ceausescu". But phone-in viewers dispute the claims of the heroes, who may have been boozing in the bar or making Christmas preparati-ons rather than rebelling in the streets.

Director's Statement

Where did you get the idea to make a film about the Romanian revolution of 1989, set in the present day?

Corneliu Porumboiu: I saw a televised debate about it five years ago, in my hometown of Vaslui in the East of Romania. The question of the day was: was there, or was there not a revolution in our town? Three people were arguing over how the events unfolded at the time. This subject has been bouncing around in my head for five years. Then in May last year, I finished writing a screenplay that I'd been working on for two years, that I was still not happy with. So I began writing 12:08 East of Bucharest, using these three characters that I had seen on television as inspiration. lt was a sort of therapy to distance myself from the other screenplay. To my great surprise, I finished it one month later. I was so happy with it I decided to begin filming as soon as possible.

Where were you when the communist regime collapsed?

I was fourteen at the time and I remember it very well. The day the regime feil, I was playing ping-pong outside while my parents sat glued to the television set. I came back into the house just after the crucial moment examined in my film: because at 12:08pm, where we lived in the country, everyone was watching live as Ceasescu fled.

Why is a young filmmaker like yourself interested in this moment of history?

The revolution had a profound impact on me. At the time, I thought I would end up working as an engineer in a factory. The revolution completely changed my prospects, as it did for other Romanians... The TV programme that inspired the film, showed how the revolution of 22 December 1989 did not spread to my town, Vaslui. People went out in the streets only after learning about the events in Bucharest. Suddenly, they realized that this was a radical upheaval. That said, there is nothing autobiographic in this film.

Director's Biography

Born in 1975 in Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu graduated in 2003 from the Bucharest University of Drama and Film. His short films LIVIU'S DREAM (2003), GONE WITH THE WINE (2002) and A TRIP TO THE CITY (2003) won him several international awards, including a Prix de la Cinéfondation in Cannes 2004. After being a resident of Cinéfondation, he directed his first feature 12:08 EAST OF BUCHAREST in 2005, which premieres at the Directors' Fortnight 2006.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu

Written by: Corneliu Porumboiu

Cinematography: Marius Panduru, Marius Panduru

Cast: Mircea Andreescu (Piscoci), Teodor Corban (Jderescu), Ion Sapdaru (Manescu)

Nominations and Awards

  • People's Choice Award 2007
  • European Screenwriter 2006
  • Feature Film Selection 2006