THE DEAD NATION (2017) [Feature]

Romania (MIFF 2018 , History Uncovered)
Director: Radu Jude

Photography and sound collide in Romanian auteur Radu Jude’s strikingly topical documentary that spotlights the rise of fascism and brutality across his country through WWII.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the latest film by Jude (Aferim!, MIFF 2015; Everybody in Our Family, MIFF 2013) attempts to add a few additional zeroes to that figure. In The Dead Nation, the widely acclaimed director takes imagery from glass-plate photographs showing different sides of Romanian life in the years from 1937 to 1944 and juxtaposes it with audio from the diaries of Jewish doctor Emil Dorian. Playing alongside nationalistic anthems and newsreels, this soundtrack details an altogether different experience of escalating antisemitism.

The extraordinarily evocative images come from the recently recovered archives of popular pre-Communist era photographer Costică Acsinte; combined with the alarmingly all-too familiar story unfolding via the soundtrack, they highlight the many forms of propaganda and how something as simple as a photograph can shield us from the realities our political leaders want us to ignore.

"[A] razor-sharp reflection on appearances, memory, and nostalgia. It is a rare accomplishment: beautiful, stirring, provocative, necessary, and very topical as a warning of what might happen again anytime." – Romania Insider

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