Costi leads a peaceful life. At night he likes to read his 6-year-old son stories, to help him sleep. Their favorite is Robin Hood. Costi sees himself as the hero – righter of wrongs and defender of the oppressed.
One evening, his neighbor pays him an unexpected visit and shares a secret: there’s treasure buried in his grandparents’ garden, he’s sure of it. If Costi will hire a metal detector to help locate it, he’ll give him half of whatever they get. Skeptical at first, in the end Costi can’t resist. He’s on board. The two accomplices have one weekend to locate the loot. Despite every obstacle in their path, Costi refuses to be discouraged. For his wife and son, he’s a real hero – nothing and no one are going to stop him.
A deceptively simple set-up: the director and his father watch a 1988 football match which the father refereed, their commentary accompanying the original television images in real time. A Bucharest derby between the country’s leading teams, Dinamo and Steaua, taking place in heavy snow, one year before the revolution that toppled Ceaușescu. The conditions are difficult at best, the play hardly sparkling. One match among many, the standard game of two halves, yellow intertitles marking time and grainy video images which merge with the snow: the perfectly unspectacular basis for a foray into the conditional. What if the ball hadn’t hit the crossbar? What if the referee had bowed to pressure and favoured one team? What if the camera had actually shown the brief ruckus on the pitch? What if the match had taken place one year later? What if snow had stopped the game from taking place at all? An endless chain of imaginary second games spiralling off from the first, each with different images, different scorelines, different allegiances, and different significances. If you were to ask which football game says the most about everything, I would tell you it is the one which is most banal. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]
It’s the 22nd of December. Sixteen years have passed since the revolution, and in a small town Christmas is about to come. Piscoci, an old retired man is preparing for another Christmas alone. Manescu, the history teacher, tries to keep up with his debts. Jderescu, the owner of a local television post, seems not to be so interested in the upcoming holidays. For him, the time to face history has come. Along with Manescu and Piscoci, he is trying to answer for himself a question which for 16 years has not had an answer: “Was it or wasn’t it a revolution in their town?”