In December 1937, the election of an anti-Semitic nationalist as prime minister of Romania prompted a Jewish doctor from Bucharest to start keeping a diary. Together with photos from a studio in the southeast of the country dating from the same period, this journal is the main source for The Dead Nation. The everyday but intriguing pictures of random people show them looking self-confidently, combatively, morosely or cheerfully into the lens, usually in their Sunday best. Most are posed portraits of families, children, social clubs, farmers with prize cattle, groups of friends, and soldiers or their sweethearts at home. The photos contrast dramatically with the diary entries that we hear in voice-over, interspersed with excerpts from archive recordings of nationalist speeches, military songs and news reports. They tell the story that the photos don’t reveal—one of rising anti-Semitism, violence, pogroms and deportations. Unconsciously and unavoidably, we make a connection between the photos and the parallel reality of the diary in this fascinating and moving film.
Ada Solomon for Hi Film Productions
Ilinca Belciu for micro FILM