Uppercase Print

Directed by Radu Jude
Romania | 2020 | Narrative
128 minutes | Romanian

In 1981, chalk slogans written in uppercase letters started appearing in public spaces in the Romanian city of Botoşani. They demanded freedom, alluded to the democratic developments taking place in Romania’s socialist sister countries, or simply called for improvements in the food supply. The culprit was Mugur Călinescu, a teenager who was still at school at the time and whose case is documented in the files of the Romanian secret police. Drawing on that material, theater director Gianina Cărbunariu crafted a documentary play, which was then filmed by Radu Jude (“Aferim!”). Jude — whose “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” also screens at SLIFF — intriguingly supplements the play with archival footage from Romanian TV of the era: Cooking shows alternate with interrogations, transcripts of wiretapped phone calls with recommendations to exercise instead of taking sedatives. This dialectical montage creates a vivid picture of the era’s dictatorial surveillance state, drawing on the authorized popular entertainment of the Ceaușescu regime to unmask it.