Past Imperfect,

Romanian Film Festival
4th edition
26-29 April 2007

Curzon Mayfair
38 Curzon Street
London W1J 7TY

Ion Ratiu - The Man Behind the Bow Tie

Documentary / 2001 / 11 min / colour / English and Romanian with English subtitles
Director: Ivor Barladeanu


Ion Ratiu (6 June 1917 – 17 January 2000) was a lawyer, journalist, writer, politician, businessman and philanthropist. Exiled in England, he was simultaneously operating as a kind of Scarlet Pimpernel, assisting in the rescue of many dissidents from Ceausescu’s dictatorship.

Ion Ratiu was the most outspoken and consistent opponent of the communist dictatorship in Romania, and of Nicolae Ceausescu, whose regime he opposed for years as the democratically elected leader of the World Union of Free Romanians. After spending 50 years in exile, he returned to Romania in 1990. He stood for president of Romania in the first democratic elections in more than 50 years.

A handsome, dapper, softly spoken man, whose genteel demeanour after his return to Romania in 1990 earned him the affectionate sobriquet ‘Mr. Bow Tie’, admired for his English manners. This is his story.


Ivor Barladeanu is a Romanian-Canadian working in the Canadian TV industry. This film is his personal tribute to the man who came to be known as ‘the best president Romania never had’.


“The very essence of democracy can be expressed in a simple sentence”, says Ion Ratiu in the opening of this short biographical take on his life between two countries but always for Romania: “I shall fight until the last drop of blood in my body to defend your right to disagree with me”. This memorable statement also provides the essence of Ion Ratiu’s career on the Romanian and the international scene. Here is a strong personality who invalidates the very motto of this year’s festival: the past is not always imperfect, at least not as far as its heroes are concerned. (A.B.)