The unpredictable anxiety of life under authoritarian rule is brilliantly dramatized in this realist breakthrough from Romanian director Alexandru Belc, Best Director winner in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section. Starting as a portrait of teenage desire and confusion, the film, which takes place in Bucharest largely over one day and night in 1972, follows 17-year-old high schooler Ana (Mara Bugarin) as she deals with heartache over her frustratingly capricious boyfriend, Sorin (Serban Lazarovici). The film shifts abruptly into darker territory after she attends a party with schoolmates who have gathered to listen to a show on Radio Free Europe, only to learn they are being watched and pursued by then Head of State Nicolae Ceaușescu’s brutal secret police, the Securitate. Belc’s dexterous filmmaking and storytelling bring to vivid reality the paranoia of everyday existence in a communist dictatorship, and show how easily and subtly the young can be emotionally manipulated into falling in line.

Filmmaker travel generously supported by Unifrance.