Filmmaker: Mohamed Kenawi
In December 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian president, was deposed and, along with his wife, shot by a firing squad after a secret military tribunal found them both guilty of crimes against the state.
The death ended the dictator’s 24 years as community party leader – 21 of them as Romania’s president.
The dictatorship that lasted 50 years caused social problems, poverty, and political and economic instability, especially the last 20 years of Ceausescu’s regime.
The Romanian people publically displayed great affection for their leader, but Ceausescu’s rule was built on fear – in particular fear of his notorious secret police called the Securitate.
Dorin Dobrincu, a historian, says: “The Romanian people suffered schizophrenia in the 80s and this situation hasn’t changed over the years. Many have a double personality. What they say at home is different from what they say in public. Today people teach their children to have a split personality and not to talk about anything outside the home.”
The new government has pledged that democracy would replace the tyranny of Ceausescu’s rule and promised to allow free speech, free thought and free enterprise in Romania.
But how much has really changed?
Romania: The Spectre of Tyranny follows Elena Vijulie, a young Romanian journalist, as she uncovers the continuing legacy of dictatorship in Romanian society today long after the fall of communism over 20 years ago.
“Although the Ceausescu regime in Romania is long gone, its shadows still linger and continue to influence the lives of people. You can see this clearly in the relationship between citizens and the ruling parties,” Vijulie says.
“It’s obvious in the way the political institutions have failed to establish an effective regime. It is also evident in the behaviour of people used to living under a regime that neglects their daily needs.”
Meeting fellow Romanians from all walks of life, Vijulie discovers that the dictatorship of the past still casts an enduring influence over the lives of people today who, as in the past, live under the rule of a governments that seems to care little for their wellbeing.