In Bucharest in 1972, a 17-year-old girl joins her friends at a party where they listen to Radio Free Europe, an underground radio station where one of the hosts is a fellow expatriate with whom the group hopes to correspond. Until the arrival of the Securitate, the secret police of the Ceaușescu regime…

The vigor of Romanian cinema, constant for twenty years, is impressive. Coming from the documentary, having also worked with Cristian Mungiu (R.M.N) and Corneliu Porumboiu (The Whistlers), Alexandru Belc offers his first fiction feature, which shares with those of his illustrious compatriots this way of translating into a rigorously realistic context a invented story.

The Radio Metronom director lived his early childhood years under the dictatorial regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, but was not yet born at the time his film evokes. There is something fundamentally moving about this desire to explore this quest for freedom of a youth forced to clandestinely seek fresh air in the middle of the darkest years of the regime.

In 1972, the wind of protest that struck the world naturally reached Romanian youth, also thanks to a Radio Free Europe program, broadcast clandestinely in the country of Nadia Comaneci. In particular, popular music in the West, banned behind the Iron Curtain, is heard there.

Belc recounts these years of lead through the journey of Ana (formidable Mara Bugarin), a 17-year-old teenager. In love with a boy who, for her part, intends to flee the country as soon as he can, Ana goes to a party organized at a friend’s house, where, as almost all young Romanians do, we listen to the radio underground while dancing to the western rock hits of the moment. A moment of abandonment that the filmmaker captures carefully, just before reality hits with full force.

Alerted (but by whom?), the Securitate (Ceaușescu’s secret police) burst into the apartment and dragged everyone away. From there, the story focuses on the lost innocence of the young protagonists and how a political police go about maintaining their authority.

The very modest – almost austere – approach of the filmmaker may prevent the viewer from fully adhering to the drama that is unfolding, but Radio Metronom certainly has the merit of exposing us to a page of history that we hope will be turned forever. . But are we sure?

Winner last year of the prize for directing in the Un certain regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, Radio Metronom is playing in its original Romanian version with French subtitles.