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TIFF Romania: Where Are You Bucharest?
Review by Rowena Santos Aquino

It is 14th January 2012, nighttime, and the camera captures people gathered on the streets of Bucharest. A gendarme tells people with a megaphone to disperse. The camera then follows this same gendarme as he tries to clear the crowds at University Square. Yet the film does not explain why people have gathered at the square. But for those who are either Romanian or aware of recent social protests in Europe, the date given at the beginning of the sequence is enough of a clue for the reason behind the crowds. Such is the apparent logic of filmmaker Vlad Petri, who is much more preoccupied with showing footage via his embedded, roving camera than with providing explanations or information. He also foregoes a voiceover to convey his perspective of what happens on the screen.

Instead, Petri allows the masses to speak for themselves through individual interviews and group conversations among the people he encounters on the streets. Ultimately, these exchanges do less to illuminate the Romanian political situation than to present how slippery and elusive is a democratic process and organising/sustaining protest, uniting in what they entail and its goals, and creating a plan that would fulfill such goals.

All the same, Petri’s point of view expresses itself in the way he organises and presents his footage. The documentary is divided into three parts: ‘The Protest,’ ‘The People,’ and ‘The President’s Suspension.’ The first part begins with a shot of a crowd chanting, ‘Resignation! Resignation!’ in reference to current Romanian president Traian Băsescu (note: the end of 2014 will mark the end of his second five-year term, which has been peppered with suspensions).

Petri is one among a handful of folks armed with a camera milling about the crowds and filming events: people throwing rocks at the gendarmes, or the gendarmes beating up people and arresting them. In the process, he picks up on conversations that present an array of issues, perspectives, and sketches of historical context to the protests.

You can read the whole article HERE.