There is very little information available about this film which was recently broadcast by the Romanian satellite TV station TVRi. The director himself had a career marked by big intervals of silence. His first film was a documentary made in 1970 which made him quite popular, but his next film came only eight years later. His most well-known movie is the adaptation to screen of Marin Preda’s Morometii, one of the best novels about the transformation in the life of Romanian farmer’s class in the mid of the last century. After the revolution he returns to documentary again with a film about the protest movements in Piata Universitatii in 1990. This film also talks about the Romanian changes in 1989-1990 and was made in 1996. Then Gulea went silent at least as a director, until last year, and I did not yet see or hear anything about his last film Weekend with My Mother made in 2009.

The facts in Stare de fapt (which roughly translate into ‘state of facts’ or ‘reality’) are brutal. It is the first fiction film that I saw dealing directly with the events of December 1989 and their aftermath. The hero of the film is a young woman, a physician superbly acted by Oana Pellea. In the night between the two worlds, when the Romanian youth take the streets and the Communist regime tries to repress the revolt, she makes love with her colleague (a divorcee), then they drive in the city and collect a young boy with a bullet wound. They take care of him, take him to the hospital, the wound in the stomach is not critical, but in the next morning they find him dead with a bullet hole in his head. The secret police officer forces them to sign a false death certificate. A few days later she finds herself in the national TV station apparently under attack by terrorist. She recognizes the secret police officer, now having crossed the lines on the side of what should be the Revolution. She is marked as a danger to speak the truth, they try to silence her, she does not accept and decides to stand for the truth.

The first third of the film reconstituting the events of December 1989 is in my opinion the best. The low quality of the film combined with the  good camera work by Alexandru Solomon (himself later a well-known documentary director) plays well in this case giving to this whole part an air of authenticity. The TV studios were the center stage of the events which were labeled worldwide as the first revolution broadcast live on TV. In reality there was a lot of confusion, it was not clear who shoot on whom, many victims could have probably been avoided. It was a time when truth and lie, terrorist and revolutionary, patriotism and corruption, good and evil, which should have been departed at a crucial moment in the history of Romania mixed again in the painful start of a new period in the history of the country, maybe not as bad as the previous one, but much more confusing.

Following the destiny of the young woman for the rest of the film, director Stere Gulea makes a bitter and pessimistic commentary not only about the events of 1989 but also about what followed. The woman gets caught into a web of lies and repression that should not have existed after 1989. Her oppressor (also admirably acted by Razvan Vasilescu) becomes part of the new regime apparatus, but he eventually disappears as well, maybe his existence having become too inconvenient for the new bosses. The father of the killed boy whom the woman meets in the cemetery does not know and does not want to know how he died, he is rather angry that such a good boy as he was did such a bad thing getting killed in the streets. The full new society seems to ignore its heroes, seems to refuse to hear the truth.

The film is not perfect. Despite the dramatic events and tragic destiny put on screen the second part of the film has too many holes and inconsistencies in the story building. It’s more a collection of memorable moments that a story well told. The symbolism is poignant but too heavy. Yet it is impressing and the quality resides in the bluntness of the saying.

The last scene of the film is a childbirth – painful and bloody as any childbirth, but also a reason of hope. There is no smile on the face of the mother, just her eyes are open interrogative about the future.