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Did It Happen At All?

The Possible History of the Romanian Revolution

When the human chain of supporters, gathered in Timişoara to protect reformed pastor László Tőkés, grew into a massive crowd of thousands chanting anti-Ceauşescu slogans, not even the protesters believed that one of the most obscure communist dictatorships of the twentieth century was really coming to an end. All the more so because the army and Securitate troops managed to restore order temporarily, leaving several dozen protesters dead. Yet a few days later, on December 22 1989, it really happened: Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife Elena fled the Bucharest building of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party on board a helicopter.

“God has turned his face toward Romania again”, exclaimed the poet Mircea Dinescu in a live program aired from Studio 4 of the Romanian Television, freshly occupied by the revolutionaries. From that moment on the Romanian revolution, the first in Eastern Europe, was broadcast live on TV. The studio was suddenly thronged with actors and writers, armed workers and military personnel wearing tricolor armbands, priests and politicians, who continually delivered, read out and analyzed the latest news. The viewers were the producers of the programs, while they themselves were the main protagonists of the events out on the streets.

As the news spread, an extraordinary series of solidarity initiatives began throughout Hungary. While the events in Timişoara were still unfolding, aid collected by specialized organizations, taxi drivers, private individuals, political parties and state agencies started flowing towards Romania. Inhabitants of Bucharest, standing in line for bread baked in Hungary, acknowledged how the propaganda machine of the dictatorship had misled them: they had not expected such help. Never before, and never again since then, has there been a period, albeit a very short one, when the two neighbors stood so close to each other.

In a two-part program, OSA Archivum will attempt to retell the possible history of the Romanian revolution with the help of several films. The reception and representation of the revolution in Hungary will be shown through news programs broadcast by the Hungarian Television and amateur movies shot by travelers. Documentary and fiction films by German and Romanian directors will offer a reconstruction of the revolution.


December 17

15:00-20:00 PM
There will be two one-hour film compilations screened continuously in OSA’s gallery:

1. One of them contains on-the-spot news and reports produced by the Hungarian TV (MTV) on the revolution and its Hungarian reception; reports on solidarity initiatives, interviews with politicians and the organizers of aid transports.
MTV, 1989, 63 min, in Hungarian

2. Another one is an amateur road movie shot by composer István Márta and graphic designer Tamás Dózsa about the fate of an aid transport. In the period of December 28-31, 1989, the group carried aid from Vigántpetend to Sf. Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyörgy), also interviewing various people along the way. Thus we hear about the afterlife of the revolution from soldiers in Cluj (Kolozsvár), actors in Sf. Gheorghe, the chaplain in Ciceu (Csíkcsicsó) and the ethnographer Zoltán Kallós, as well as from a Hungarian traveler, who has been unaccounted for.
Amateur film, 1989, 65 min (world premiere), in Hungarian

At dusk, a collage of Romanian archival and amateur footage and TV programs will be projected on the facade window of OSA. Passers-by will be able to watch this compilation continuously throughout December.


December 18

15:00 PM Videograms of a Revolution
Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, 1992, 106 min
In Romanian and English with English subtitles

17:00 PM The Paper Will Be Blue
Radu Muntean, 2006, 95 min
In Romanian with Hungarian subtitles

19:00 PM 12:08 East of Bucharest
Corneliu Porumboiu, 2006, 89 min
In Romanian with Hungarian subtitles

20:30 PM Foreign policy expert and journalist Attila Ara-Kovács talks with writer György Dragomán on the visual representation of the Romanian revolution.

(Read more about the films)

The program was created in cooperation with the Romanian Cultural Institute in Budapest.


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tel. 327-3250

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