** Co-presented with Northwest Film Forum and Making Waves New Romanian Cinema on the occasion of The Romanians, 30 Years Of Cinema Revolution, a film series coming to NWFF and other Seattle locations in 2020, dedicated to the Romanian Revolution of 1989! **
Videograms of a Revolution is a compilation and distillation of footage shot throughout the latter days of 1989 in Bucharest, Romania, as demonstrators in opposition to the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu began to document a revolution in real time using the period’s most immediate means of communication: Television. As a vocal resistance began forming during Ceaușescu’s final speech on December 21st, it became clear that a tide was shifting and this moment must be seized to spread the word. So demonstrators forcibly occupied the television station and began broadcasting uninterrupted for the next 120 hours with the explicit intent on overthrowing Ceaușescu and holding him accountable for his crimes. What played out was a revolution with such immediacy, Ceaușescu was sentenced to death by execution on Christmas Day, broadcasts still running live for this moment.
Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujică’s remarkable film recreates this stream of broadcasts, but more pointedly shows the power of technology when its handed over to the people, and that news could in fact be delivered with an immediacy we almost take for granted these days. The impact of this revolution not only had a lasting impact for demonstrators all around the world, but arguably changed how people all around the world engage with technology as a means of immediate communication and organization.
“We get all of the broadcast glitches, unedited feeds, powergrabbing chaos, and epochal please-stand-by ellipses; as civilians literally defend the TV station with combat rifles, unidentified counter-revolutionary snipers hole up in massive and empty high-rise buildings the dictator had built and then abandoned. The sense of exhilarating liberation and history made as we watch is consistently leavened by the weird distance, between citizens and their own revolt, occupied by TV cameras and monitors. By the end of the week, and the Ceausescus’ executions, nothing is real – or historical – until it is seen on television.” – Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice