For your consideration for the 92nd Academy Awards™
n the 20th of December, 1989, a few days after Ceausescu’s bloody repression in Timisoara, a father’s quiet evening turns to sheer ordeal as he finds out that his little son has mailed a wish letter to Santa. As the kid understood, his father’s desire was to see Ceausescu dead. [Read full synopsis]
CAST & CREW
WRITER & DIRECTOR: BOGDAN MURESANU
CINEMATOGRAPHY: TUDOR PLATON
FILM EDITING: ANDREI BALASOIU
SOUND: SEBASTIAN ZSEMLVE
PRODUCERS: BOGDAN MURESANU & VLAD IORGA
CO-PRODUCER: VICTOR DUMITROVICI
ASSOCIATED PRODUCERS: EDUARDO ESCRIBANO SOLERA & DAN BURLAC
WITH THE SUPPORT OF CNC ROMANIA
IN CO-PRODUCTION WITH TVR, COMMITET AND MAILUKI FILMS
CO-FINANCED BY HAVAS CARAT ROMANIA, CBKK MEDIA AND CINEMA CITY
DISTRIBUTION: MAILUKI FILMS
On the 20th of December 1989, a few days after Ceausescu’s bloody repression in Timisoara, Gelu, a 35 years old electrician, comes home carrying a fir tree. On the way he meets his son, Marius, then a neighbor. The grown-ups start whispering about what has just happened in Timisoara. The neighbor offers an orange to the little boy to have something under the fir tree.
At home, during the usual family dinner prepared by Mariana, Gelu’s wife, he asks Marius if he was a good boy on his last day at school and what he asked Santa for. Marius confirms he wrote to Santa all the family’s wishes and has already mailed the letter. Father admonishes Marius for leaving the house and amusingly insists in finding out what was in the letter.
To Gelu’s shocking surprise, the boy informs him that he asked for his father’s most dear wish: to see Ceausescu—or Uncle Nick, as he was commonly referred to in private—dead.
The revelation unleashes a panicked hell. Parents quarrel at length whose fault is it: the kid’s or theirs, and what is to be done. They spend the night trying to figure out how to get out of such a dire situation, which seems hopeless. Mariana comes up with a solution and Gelu puts it in practice, though later on he doubts he managed to destroy the letter.
Little does he know, in those moments of utter despair, that the next day the Romanian Revolution will spark and, within a few days—on Christmas day—Ceausescu will be executed.
30 years have passed since the Revolution, and I hope the film helps raise some questions regarding the freedom of expression, personal dignity and other such concepts that have become demonized or simply devoid of meaning. In my opinion, not enough films have been made about this period in our history (or at least not in a realistic manner) and I believe that now, more than ever, we need them—to temper nostalgic, uninformed or simply politically disoriented people, and to retrieve some of the questions, even if we cannot always give the right answers. The Christmas Gift is not just about the past. There is a dose of absurdity within the social experiment of communism in Romania, which makes it quite contemporary and universal. This absurdity characteristic to certain types of social organization where the power is held by a madman might just be something recurrent.
"A film that masterfully portrays, with black humor and great performances, the collective paranoia in a dictatorial state, fueled by repression and surveillance, through a small family conflict."
"Starting from an anecdote, the films captures an entire era of a country’s history, and does it within the confines of a very limited physical space."
"an intimate and technically flawless film that examines fear under a dictatorship as well as the delicacy of familial relationships"
"An excellently crafted film, with depth, humanity and an outstanding performance by an ensemble cast that will give letters to Santa a whole new meaning."
92nd Academy Awards™ Shortlist for BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
European Film Award for Short Film – European Film Awards (2019)
Grand Prix – Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (2019)
Best of the Festival & Jury Award – Palm Springs International ShortFest (2019)
Best Actor (Adrian Vancica) & Jury Prize – Brussels Short Film Festival (2019)
Grand-Prix & Best Script – Lviv International Short Film Festival Wiz-Art (2019)
Gopo Award for Short Film – Gopo Awards, Romania (2019)
Best Short Fiction Film – Tirana International Film Festival, AL (2019)
Special Mention – Ljubljana International Film Festival (2019)
Special Mention – Art Film Festival (2019)
Best Short Film & Best Script & Best Actor (Adrian Vancica) – International Short Film Festival of Bueu (FICBUEU) (2019)
First Prize – International Short Film Festival of Cyprus (ISFFC) (2019)
Great International Award – Mecal Barcelona International Short and Animation Film Festival (2019)
Dunas de Liencres – Piélagos en Corto – Festival Internacional de Cortometrajes de Ficción (2019)
Audience Award – Tampere International Short Film Festival (2019)
Confrontations Online Award – Berlin Interfilm Festival (2018)
Main Prize – Cottbus Film Festival of Young East European Cinema (2018)
Best Director Award – Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Film (2018)
Best Short Film – Transilvania International Film Festival (2018)
Golden Cat Award – International Izmir Short Film Festival (2018)
Alcine Award – Alcalá de Henares Short Film Festival (2018)
Alcine Jury Prize – ALCINE Festival de Cine de Alcalá de Henares (2018)
The Wild Bison Award – ZubrOFFka Film Festival (2018)
Script Award SGAE Foundation – Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Films (2018)
Special Jury Mention – Montpellier Mediterranean Film Festival (2018)
Audience Award – NexT International Film Festival (2018)
Audience Award – Anonimul International Independent Film Festival (2018)
International Grand Prize – Kaohsiung Film Festival (2019)
Best Short Film Prize – Les Arcs European Film Festival (2019)
Short Films Competition – Vilnius International Film Festival (2019)
Golden Barge – Vukovar Film Festival (2019)
Audience Award – Lviv International Short Film Festival Wiz-Art (2019)
Audience Award – Selb Film Festival (2019)
Blue Angel – Art Film Festival (2019)
Audience Award – Grenzland-Filmtage (2019)
DETAILS & TECHNICAL SPECS
Original title: Cadoul de Craciun
English title: The Christmas Gift
Type of film: Short Fiction
Country of production: Romania, Espana
Year of production: 2018
Running time: 23 min
Type of presentation: Digital
Number of reels: 1
Screen ratio: 4:3