Romania 1983. Leaving behind his two daughters aged 11 and 12, his wife and a newborn baby seriously ill in hospital, radio repairman Ion Bugan set off from his village in the middle of the night. Ion drove through the night, 200 km to Bucharest. In the back of his car he had hidden some home-made placards he made painted and trimmed with black funeral ribbons. ’Down with the Ceausescu dynasty!’ read one. Another: ‘Justice and Police, who do you defend: the Ceausescu family or human beings?’ In the heart of the city he made his protest.
Ion was, predictably, arrested. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. He knew very well what awaited him in prison. He had previously been imprisoned for several attempts to leave Romania in the 1960s. But from his protest and arrest on, Ion’s wife and children were under the close surveillance of the secret police, who bugged their house and tapped their phone. With manipulations, intriges and lies the Securited tried to destroy their lives. From the day of Ion’s arrest the Securitate documented every conversation, possession and activity the family had. The dossier shows them now everything that used to be, down to the ornaments on the shelves and children’s games in the cupboard. Ironically, it is the Securitate who are now helping the Bugan’s recall their past lives
25 years later the entire Bugan family decided to return to Romania for a trip – a tour through their past. They decided to visit the prisons in which Ion had been held, even to visit his cells. Driving across the country, they called in on relatives and friends, and headed across to the Black Sea where they had spent their happiest holiday times. Their motives were complex. Ion was in search perhaps of recognition for what had been a noble and patriotic sacrifice. For his wife, Mioara, and the now grown up children, the purpose was to understand better the missing years.
Long Documentary (85′) for cinema and international broadcast
in post production
photograph Catalin Bugan