An excerpt from the booklet essay by Carmen Gray

Radu Jude has over the last decade carved out a place for himself as one of Romania’s foremost directors - and part of the reason his films are so hotly anticipated is that one never knows what to expect. He cut his teeth on the wry satirical realism of the Romanian New Wave, as assistant director on Cristi Puiu’s definitive The Death of Mr Lazarescu (Moartea domnului Lăzărescu, 2005), followed with his own debut feature The Happiest Girl in the World (Cea mai fericită fată din lume) in 2009. The wave’s flowering may have faded (no longer the hottest cinema of the minute on the global festival circuit, it’s become a still-solid but overly imitated national stylistic norm), but Jude has refused to settle comfortably into a tested formula, constantly experimenting to form an oeuvre of dynamic shifts that is altogether harder to classify. If there is any strong current running through his work, it’s an interest in exposing power imbalances and abuses. This is a drive that has grown more urgent in the last few years as, amid the tidal wave of nationalism swamping Europe, Romania too embraces an authoritarian shift back to the right. Provoking a vicious backlash in conservative quarters among those who would prefer to keep inconvenient historical truths hidden, his films most recently (in particular his rousing 2018 activist work of reckoning “I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians” / "Îmi este indiferent dacă în istorie vom intra ca barbari") have shown us the capacity for dissident integrity in his role of black sheep, refusing to take on prevailing social attitudes and conventions without question.

Jude’s films have frequently turned an eye to Europe’s troubled past and its persistent, returning phantom traces in the politics of the present. He has set himself apart from his compatriot directors through focusing more on the controversial, elided roots of fascism in Romania, rather than the more prevalent lampooning of its traumatic years of Communist dictatorship. His acclaimed Aferim! (2015), for instance, was a tongue-in-cheek western about a gypsy slave on the run in a 19th Century Wallachia riven by racial prejudices. Scarred Hearts (Inimi cicatrizate, 2016) was set in the shut-away world of a ‘30s sanatorium - but despite the seclusion of its action, it cast a clear eye on anti-Semitism and the fascism that was rising outside. With his most recent two features, Jude derails any notion you could have formed of history as mere backdrop to his work. In two potent companion pieces, he bears witness to Romania’s persecution and killing of Jews in World War II (a truth repressed by the state), and mounts an incendiary challenge to the many who would deny his country’s hand in Holocaust atrocities. The Dead Nation (Tara moartă, 2017) sets before us a collection of date-labelled stills from a photography studio of strangers in group poses, so worn that their speckled deterioration and distressed silver luminosity make them appear as transient apparitions. These are juxtaposed against a voice-over of recollections that take us from 1937 to 1946 - chronologically, so we can feel the worsening plight of Jews as it happened. These were sourced from the diary of a Jewish doctor in Bucharest, and record the hushed and terrible undercurrent of the city’s marginalised beneath and surreally at odds with the public-facing veneer deemed officially fit for posterity. Jude took this reactivation of historical traces into collective consciousness further with 'I Do Not Care If We Go Down As History As Barbarians', a multi-layered cinematic edifice of fiction and reality that interrogates how we process the past.

The type of rethinking of textual traces evident in Jude’s films has precedents and cohorts elsewhere in Romanian cinema. Andrei Ujică’s masterful The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Autobiografia lui Nicolae Ceausescu, 2010) subversively edited from National Archives footage is a case in point, even as it makes its target a Communist despot now widely reviled in public discourse. The Communist years were terrible - but that’s not all, Jude’s cinema insists, in an uncompromisingly honest accounting that some citizens and authorities evidently find too inconvenient to accept.


Carmen Gray's complete essay, from which this excerpt is taken, appears in the booklet which accompanies the release.

Disc Info

Romania, 2012
Everybody in Our Family:
107 minutes
Special features: 76 minutes
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Surround / 2.0 Stereo LPCM (48k/24-bit)
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Language: Romanian
Subtitles: English

Blu-ray: BD50 / 1080 / 24fps / Region ABC (Region Free)

Blu-Ray: £19.99
Release Date: 29 Apr 2019


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