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Official Selection:
Cannes Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
New York Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival


International Film Festival Rotterdam
Sheffield Doc/Fest
Tyrant with a Movie Camera
by J. Hoberman – The New York Review of Books

“Who knew that three hours of coarsely edited Romanian state propaganda culled from the ruinous Ceaucescu era between 1965 and 1989 could be so transfixing, illuminating and haunting? Andrei Ujicâ’s extraordinary film eschews context and narration in a wry attempt to fashion a historical chronicle in the same dubiously subjective spirit that the footage was initially conceived.”
(five stars out of five)
Time Out London

“Cinema’s propagandistic power is in full effect in Andrei Ujica’s montage epic, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, a contemporary fresco starring Romania’s fallen ruler and his wife, Elena. A radical and chilling project, the film concludes the filmmaker’s trilogy exploring the end of communism which began with the landmark Videograms for a Revolution, co-directed with German film essayist Harun Farocki. Autobiography defies categorization and functions closest to a Vertovian “film-object” wherein fragments of reality are edited together from an inventory of images in order to illustrate a higher truth. But what constitutes reality when its images have been stage-managed into baroque pageantry or quasi-Hollywood musicals by a delusional dictator?

Nicolae Ceausescu’s megalomania and self-aggrandizement are legendary. As Romania’s tyrannical President from 1974 to 1989, he created a bizarre and seemingly infectious cult of personality for himself. As Romania plunged into mass poverty under his draconian austerity programme and his banning of contraception (which caused widespread child abandonment, botched clandestine abortions and countless AIDS/HIV-infected orphans), Ceausescu continued to be fêted the world over. He was knighted by the Queen of England, visited by President Nixon (during the Cold War, no less) and was received warmly by Charles de Gaulle, Mao Tse-tung and most auspiciously by the North Koreans, whose welcoming ceremonies for him rivaled those of the Beijing Olympics.

Autobiography begins with the infamous television footage of the frail-looking Ceausescus in captivity undergoing a mock trial prior to their execution on Christmas Day. The film opens onto scenes of pomp and circumstance, chronicling Ceausescu’s twenty-five-year reign. Eschewing voice-over commentary, the film’s brilliant montage and subtle sound reconstruction create a sui generis film, lying somewhere between Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma and Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera.

Four years in the making and culled from one thousand hours of archival footage – both state sanctioned and private – this spellbinding adventure unfolds as if from the nostalgic, solipsistic memory of Ceausescu himself.”
– Andréa Picard, Toronto International Film Festival

“As sometimes happens, some of the finest movies in the festival are being presented outside the main event, including “The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu.” Andrei Ujica opens this found-footage documentary with smeary color images of that former Romanian dictator shortly after his arrest in 1989 and then cuts to stark, silent, gripping black-and-white images, shot from on high, of thousands of people massing, surging and running in 1965, when Ceausescu’s predecessor, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, died. What follows are an astonishment of black-and-white and color visuals of Ceausescu at work and play through the decades — waving at workers, delivering speeches, sampling baked goods, driving a domestic car, meeting the queen of England — official images that helped sustain the lie of success he embodied.”
– Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Andrei Ujica interview with Dennis Lim in The New York Times
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Nicolae Ceausescu, at the early stages of his career, gives a garden party.
Photo: The Film Desk/Madragora
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Nicolae Ceaucescu in North Korea with Kim Il-Sung.
Photo: The Film Desk/Mandragora
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Nicolae Ceausescu invited to the Kremlin by Mikhail Gorbachev
Photo: The Film Desk/Mandragora
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Screenings
Previous Screenings
There are no screenings scheduled at this time.
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Andrei Ujicâ, filmmaker
poster_eng_70_100.pdf
Pacific Cinematheque
Vancouver, BC

14 Pews
Houston, TX

Anthology Film Archives
New York, NY

Culver Center for the Arts
Riverside, CA

Union Cinema
Milwaukee, WI

Charles Theater
Baltimore, MD

UW Madison Cinematheque
Madison, WI

Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Oklahoma City, OK

Cleveland Cinematheque
Cleveland, OH

Eastman House
Rochester, NY

Cinema Village
New York, NY

Northwest Film Forum
Seattle, WA

Museum of the Moving Image
Astoria, NY

Jacob Burns Film Center
Pleasantville, NY

Harvard Film Archives
Cambridge, MA

Laemmle Music Hall 3
Los Angeles, CA

West End Cinema
Washington, DC

Wexner Center for the Arts
Columbus, OH

Romanian-Canadian Cultural Association
Calgary, Canada

International House
Philadelphia, PA

Bard College
Annandale, NY

Sarasota Film Festival
Sarasota, FL

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Durham, NC

San Francisco International Film Festival
San Francisco, CA

Siskel Film Center
Chicago, IL

Toronto-Romanian Film Festival
Toronto, ON

Romanian Film Festival of Chicago
Chicago, IL

Film Society of Lincoln Center
New York, NY

Cornell Cinema
Ithaca, NY

Cinema Arts Centre
Huntington, NY
Nicolae and Elena Ceaucescu vacationing in the Carpathian Mountains.
Photo: The Film Desk/Mandragora