14 May 2009

Film review: The Children of the Decree, by Florian Iepan and Razvan Georgescu (2004), *****

Synopsis

“Procreation is the social duty of all fertile women,” was the political thinking during the 1960s and 1970s in Romania. In 1966, Ceaucescu issued Decree 770, in which he forbade abortion for all women unless they were over forty or were already taking care of four children. All forms of contraception were totally banned. The New Romanian Man was born. By 1969, the country had a million babies more than the previous average. Thousands of kindergartens were built overnight. Children had to participate in sports and cultural activities.

Romanian society was rapidly changing. By using very interesting archival footage and excerpts from old fiction films and by interviewing famous personalities from that time – gynaecologists or mothers who were part of the new society – the director revives this period of tremendous oppression of personal freedom. Many deaths were caused by the mere fact that women, including wives of secret Romanian agents, famous TV presenters and actresses, had to undergo illegal abortions. Many women were jailed for having them. Some died by using awkward abortion methods, like injecting mustard or lemon juice into the uterus. Sex life was no fun anymore. But still, Romania had a demographic boom and hosted a world conference on population in 1974.

From 24th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. This site streams the movie in English.


You can watch a trailer of the movie here, and the introduction here.

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