StartPoint Prize 2015

Mihai G. Dragolea

Mihai-Gavril Dragolea's video is a slow-paced documentary, which represents the fates of several “Ceausescu's Children” 25 years after the fall of communism. Behind this term hides a phenomenon, representing one of the most tragic chapters in the Romanian dictator's rule. Inspired by Stalin's thesis that population growth itself will ensure economic boom, he came up with a plan in 1966 to increase the number of state inhabitants from 23 to 30 million by 2000. His infamous Decree 770 of 1967 criminalised abortion. Pregnancy was put under state control, childless women were considered to be enemies of the state. Contraception and sex education were things of the past. The consequences of this policy, together with inadequate health care and general poverty, were not long in the coming: apart from the high child mortality rates there were many unwanted children, who have been removed from their parents to state care. Due to the fact that families could not provide for them and also within the spirit of the ideology back then, the state could take a better care of children than the parents. In 1989 more than 100 000 children lived in these state homes for abandoned and removed children. The conditions were harsh: the economically poorly managed state started reducing their funding in the '80s, so these homes suffered from a lack of pretty much everything: staff, food, electricity, even heating. (e.g. another consequence was the re-use of syringes, which resulted in the highest HIV incidence among the child population in Europe.) Children's emotional needs were completely ignored and living in the homes was dictated by pervasive bullying which made their lives a living hell. All this is told in the movie through the memories of former inmates, now adults. (mf)