12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?)

Critics Consensus

With a witty script full of satirical overtones and dry humor, 12:08 East of Bucharest is a thoroughly enjoyable Romanian comedy.



Total Count: 47


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,165
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Movie Info

Gil-Scott Heron once wrote "the revolution will not be televised," but one Romanian newsman attempts to put his nation's revolution on the air after the fact in this satiric comedy from writer and director Corneliu Porumboiu. It's the sixteenth anniversary of the revolt that removed Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu from power in Romania, and Jderescu (Ion Sapdaru) is the host of a televised public affairs show who wants to do a special program on the revolution. Jderescu's idea is to bring on a handful of ordinary citizens to discuss their role in Ceausescu's overthrow and how their lives have changed since Communist rule was swept from Romania. However, Jderescu can only round up two guests for his broadcast -- elderly Piscoci (Mircea Andreescu), who's more interested in playing Santa Claus for the neighborhood kids than talking politics, and Manescu (Teo Corban), a schoolteacher nursing a brutal hangover. As Jderescu tries to lead a serious discussion of how Romania has changed since Ceausescu was driven from power, the conversation wanders off on a tangent about where the revolution actually took place, and the waters become even more muddied when Jderescu opens up the phone lines for questions from viewers, most of whom have their own distinct (and strongly conflicting) memories of the Revolution . . . and one of which has a bone to pick with Manescu over some drunken insults he hurled the night before. A Fost Sau n-a Fost? (aka 12:08 East of Bucharest) received its North American premier at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Mircea Andreescu
as Emanoil Piscoci
Teo Corban
as Virgil Jderescu
Ion Sapdaru
as Tiberiu Manescu
Mirela Cioaba
as Mrs Manescu
Luminita Gheorghiu
as Mrs Jderescu
Daniel Badale
as Professor
Aurelia Tocu
as Voice of Vasile Rebegea
Ion Ciolacu
as Voice of Ion Castachescu
Lucian Pinzaru
as Voice of Costica Bejan
Corneliu Negrea
as Voice of Gelu Isarescu
Coca Bloos
as Voice of Tina
Marian Catalin Avasiloae
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Marian Ciprian Birzoi
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Alexandru Cântea
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
George Robert Cristea
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Tudor Danaila
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Andrei Danaila
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Victor Alexandru Diaconu
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Silviu Costel Dula
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Sergiu Leonte
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Daniel Popa
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Iulian Suru
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Remus Vatamanu
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Andra Roxana Talmaciu
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Romeo Talmaciu
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Carmen Lenuta Trufia
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
Mihai Basescu
as Member of Grupul Rotaria
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News & Interviews for 12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?)

Critic Reviews for 12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?)

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (2)

  • Dry comedies from eastern Europe tend to cast a skeptical eye on anything and everything, which is certainly the case with Corneliu Porumboiu's debut feature.

    Dec 4, 2007 | Full Review…
  • 12:08 East of Bucharest is easier to admire than enjoy, funnier to describe than actually watch.

    Nov 30, 2007 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • Porumboiu's satire about history and short memories is a modest, deadpan masterpiece.

    Oct 6, 2007 | Rating: 5/6

    David Fear

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • 12:08 East of Bucharest cleverly takes on the aftermath of the December 1989 revolution in Romania that resulted in the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaucescu. It's a movie that seems simple, yet its subtle and brilliant complexity is not to be denied.

    Sep 14, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The only problem with the new Romanian cinema seems to be titles few can easily remember - but some eccentricity is permissible when the films are so good.

    Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 4/5
  • It won the best first film award at Cannes; somehow, it doesn't seem quite substantial enough to justify that accolade.

    Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Andrew Pulver

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for 12:08 East of Bucharest (A fost sau n-a fost?)

  • May 02, 2013
    A tremendously funny film about recollection but moreso how we often develop stories in order to make us part of larger events or experiences. A true gem.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 14, 2012
    This is a satire so well done that most of the time you won't even notice how many things ridicules at the same time! Romanian cinema is on a roll, and most of the films are like this one - warmly naturalistic emphasizing character and performance over formal mastery. There is a style but the real virtuosity is more expressed through very witty long conversations, allowed to play out in precisely composed frames. A real treat to enjoy! The director Corneliu Porumboiu won the 2006 Camera d'Or Prize (for best first film) at the Cannes Film Festival for this really seriously funny story set in the city of Vaslui, centering on a group of characters who revisit the Romanian Revolution of 1989 which brought an end to the communist regime. Just imagine TV show with a smug TV host Ion Sapdaru and the two men who eventually agree to help Sapdaru: drunken, deep-in-debt history teacher Teo Corban, and grumpy old Santa Claus impersonator Mircea Andreescu...These guys made me laugh even when they were dead serious! The full English title refers to the setting of the film and the time of day at which Romanian president Nicolae Ceauşescu fled following the revolution, 12:08 pm on December 22, 1989. The original Romanian title roughly translates to "Was There or Wasn't There?", referring to the film's central issue: did Vaslui have any part in the 1989 revolution? The answer depends on whether the city registered any protest before the moment of Ceauşescu's flight... If you like to question many things and still enjoy a slyly comic tone with lots of self-mockery, I will recommend this work of art!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 28, 2009
    Romanian films are certainly where it's at. The past 5 years have thrown up simple yet engaging works unmatched by the majority of the world. They have the ability to comment on Romanian society, with a sense of dark humour and without being too preachy. 12:08 East from Bucharest tells of a small town and whether or not it had anything to do with the 1989 revolution. The film sets up it's three protagonists and the world they live in. It manages to use the small town setting to it's advantage as we get a lot of back-story through the townsfolk recollections of each other. Over half the film is a TV broadcast, making it almost static, given humourous life by an incompetent cameraman and his less than adequate tripods. Luckily the dialogue, bickering and mystery is enough to keep the audience fully entertained. It's amazing how brilliantly scripted dialogue can be more enthralling than car chases, explosions and slapstick. The cinematography is also beautiful, with an exceptional silent climax as the streetlights come alive at dusk.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 11, 2008
    [font=Century Gothic]"12:08 East of Bucharest" has two things in common with other Romanian movies I have seen in the last couple of years:[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]1. The favoring of long, static takes.(To highlight this, there is a running joke about handheld cameras.)[/font] [font=Century Gothic]2. The movie takes place in a single day.(What is up with this, by the way?)[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]This day is December 22, 2005, the 16th anniversary of the end of Communist rule in Romania. To commemorate this, Virgil Jderescu(Teodor Corban), a former textile engineer, is hosting a special program at his television station on the events of that day in the town he lives in. As guests, he has Tiberiu Manescu(Ion Sapdaru), an alcoholic university professor, and Emanoil Piscoci(Mircea Andreescu) who has just been drafted into being the neighborhood Santa Claus again.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]"12:08 East of Bucharest" is a deadpan comic movie that is about a television show that lies somewhere between bad public access television and Monty Python. On the serious side, the movie is also a meditation on the role of history in everyday lives. The world in general may change but life goes on. And it is clear that nothing much has improved for these characters in the past sixteen years. [/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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