First of only a couple of films seen at the International Film Festival Rotterdam this week was 'The Paper Will Be Blue' ('Hirtia va fi Albastra'), a darkly humorous docudrama set during the Romanian Revolution.
In the night of December 22, 1989, when dictator Ceausescu had vanished and left the country in turmoil, a militia group patrols the streets of Bukarest. Chaos rules, communications are scarce, and without any orders from higher up, the group is increasingly uncertain of their mission's purpose. Who and what are they supposed to guard? And who is the enemy now?
One of the group's members decides to defect and join the revolutionaries, but it turns out not to be very clear who they are either. As the platoon sets out to search for their colleage, the film follows their often farcical adventures through the night, until the ultimately tragic ending at dawn. The meaning of the title (which i won't spoil here) is not revealed till then. Suffice to say it poignantly brings out the absurdity of a totalitarian regime that has lost its head.
As director Radu Muntean explained in the Q&A after the screening, most of the story was based on actual events, researched from hundreds of hours of footage from state television archives. Ironically, and mirroring the confusion of events at the time, the footage was not preserved in chronological order, forcing them to distill their own history from it.