Masterschool Films screened at IDFA

In 2004, two documentaries developed within the framework of the Discovery Campus Masterschool were screened in the competition programmes of the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam (IDFA).

Director Alexandru Solomon, a graduate of the Masterschool 2001, had entered the Joris Ivens Competition for long documentaries (more than 60 minutes) with his film "THE GREAT COMMUNIST BANK ROBBERY" (Romania, 2004), a thrilling reconstruction of the true story behind a propaganda film about a bank robbery in socialist Romania in 1959.

Florin Iepan and Razvan Georgescu (Masterschool 2002) participated with "CHILDREN OF THE DECREE" (Germany, 2004) in the Silver Wolf Competition, in which short documentaries (60 minutes or less) compete against each other. Their documentary tells the story of the Romanian Baby Boom-Generation, from its birth by Ceaucescu's Decree 770 issued in 1966 prohibiting abortion for all women to its maturity in 1989 when this new generation, in which Ceausescu had put all his hopes, turned against him and executed the dictator and his wife.

More information on the films:

THE GREAT COMMUNIST BANK ROBBERY Alexandru Solomon

The camera never lies. This adage from the early years of documentary was adopted by the Romanian socialist regime in 1959 to convince viewers of the veracity of its reconstruction of a bank robbery. In addition, the leading roles were played by the six perpetrators themselves, portrayed as corrupt gangsters. More than forty years later, director Alexandru Solomon reconstructs the reconstruction, incorporating interviews with a former cell mate, the cameraman at the time, neighbours and Securitate agents. Their accounts indicate that in the propaganda film more was withheld than revealed. The bank robbery was not a gangster operation, but an act of resistance by prominent party members, who after their involuntary collaboration on the film were sentenced to death during a mock trial that was filmed live and included in the film. From the how, Solomon gradually shifts attention to the why of their deed, describing the circumstances in which Jewish party members lived on the eve of the socialist regime's fifteenth anniversary. The regime had declared crime officially nonexistent, even going so far as to ban gangster movies.

Romania, 2004 colour / black and white, 35mm, 1 hour 15 min. Editing: Sophie Reiter Narration: Alexandru Solomon Narrator: Victor Rebengiuc Photography: Constantin Chelba Production: Tudor Giurgiu, Serge Lalou, Virginie Vallat Director: Alexandru Solomon Sound: Dana Bunescu, Viorel Dobre

CHILDREN OF THE DECREE Florin Iepan

Procreation is the social duty of all fertile women, was the political thinking during the 1960s and 1970s in Romania. In 1966, Ceaucescu issued Decree 770, in which he forbade abortion for all women unless they were over forty or were already taking care of four children. All forms of contraception were totally banned. The New Romanian Man was born. By 1969, the country had a million babies more than the previous average. Thousands of kindergartens were built overnight. Children had to participate in sports and cultural activities. Romanian society was rapidly changing. By using very interesting archival footage and excerpts from old fiction films and by interviewing famous personalities from that time gynaecologists or mothers who were part of the new society the director revives this period of tremendous oppression of personal freedom. Many deaths were caused by the mere fact that women, including wives of secret Romanian agents, famous TV presenters and actresses, had to undergo illegal abortions. Many women were jailed for having them. Some died by using awkward abortion methods, like injecting mustard or lemon juice into the uterus. Sex life was no fun anymore. But still, Romania had a demographic boom and hosted a world conference on population in 1974.

Germany, 2004 colour, video, 52 min. Editing: Wolfgang Lehmann Photography: Carlos Fuchs, Peter Reuther, Wolf Truchsess von Wetzhausen Production: Razvan Georgescu Director: Florin Iepan Screenplay: Razvan Georgescu, Florin Iepan Sound: Alfred Huff