Past Imperfect,

Romanian Film Festival
4th edition
26-29 April 2007

Curzon Mayfair
38 Curzon Street
London W1J 7TY

The Way I Spent the End of the World

Feature film / Romania-France / 2006 / 101 min / colour / English subtitles
Director: Catalin Mitulescu
Original music by: Alexander Balanescu


Dorotheea Petre, Timotei Duma, Marius Stan, Marian Stoica, Ionut Becheru


Bucharest 1989 – Last year of the Ceausescu regime. Eva, seventeen, lives with her parents and her 7 year-old brother Lalalilu. One day at school, Eva and her boyfriend Alex accidentally break a bust of Ceausescu. They are forced to confess their crime before a disciplinary committee. Alex is protected by his father, a Party officer, but Eva is expelled from school and transferred to a reformatory establishment. There, she meets Andrei, a boy from a family of dissidents, and decides to escape Romania with him by crossing the Danube. Lalalilu is more and more convinced that Ceausescu is the main reason for Eva’s decision to leave. So, with his friends from school, he devises a plan to kill the dictator.


View the full script here (Romanian only).

Director’s Statement

“This film is a tragicomedy with a dash of absurd and sublime, which tries to communicate the feelings of those past times. (...) The film is based on my recollections, on my nostalgia. I made this film because I missed my kindergarten days, my high-school, my Romania.” (


“With its combination of wry satire and deadly hardship, it brings to mind the sixties Czech comedies of directors like Jiri Menzel, but with that extra dimension of political actuality”. (Neil Young’s Film Lounge)


2006 Best Actress for Dorotheea Petre, ‘Un Certain Regard’, Cannes 2006
2005 Sundance and NHK Award for Best European Project


Born in 1972, in Bucharest. Catalin Mitulescu studied Geology until 1993, then graduated from The National University of Drama and Cinematography in 2001.

Selected filmography

2006: The Way I spent the End of the World; feature film, 101 min, colour – director, producer
2005: Ryna (directed by Ruxandra Zenide) – producer
2004: Traffic; short film, 15 min, colour – director
2002: 17 Minutes Late (17 minute intarziere); short film, 10 min, colour – director
2002: Gerone; short film, 5 min, colour – director
2000: Bucuresti-Wien, 8:15; short film, 13 min, b/w – director
2000: As You Wish (Asa cum vrei tu); short film, 5 min, colour – director
1999: Adrian Wonder Kid (Adrian Copilul Minune); documentary, 10 min, colour – director
1999: The Most Beautiful Is Ana (Cea mai frumoasa este Ana); short film, 3 min, b/w – director
1998: In the Afternoon (La amiaza); short film, 9 min, b/w – director
1997: Angels (Ingerii); short film, 7min, colour – director
1997: A Thing Which Is Understood (Un lucru care vine de la sine); short film, 5 min, colour – director


“I made this film because I missed my Romania”, said Mitulescu in an interview. One Romanian journalist replied, “What I’ve seen in his film was not my Romania. In my Romania, the French children’s magazine PIF was much more important to children than was Ceausescu”. Welcome to the land of contested memories!

Narratives of childhood at the intersection with History have been a popular sub-genre in Eastern Central European cinema, particularly in the aftermath of communism. Childhood provided a colourful lens for retelling the past, as the world of the child was always presumed to be less tense than that of the adult. Mitulescu’s aim is not to fashion himself as the chronicler of Romania’s troubled history. He has a story to tell about a volatile past imperfect that needs to be tamed. That is why he’s walking on a tightrope between nostalgia and recovery therapy (…with some support from Scorsese & Wenders). And that is why he invites Lalalilu, with his dreams and bubble-gum balloons, to enter the picture.

Mitulescu’s film is probably the most sensorial and richly textured film of this year’s festival. This is History seen from the margins, and gradually morphing into fairy-tale. Sit down and enjoy it. Had you been there for the real thing, it’s most likely that you would have missed the fun side of it. (A.B.)