Reconstruction: A Film by Irene Lusztig

2001
Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Irene Lusztig
Directed by Irene Lusztig
VHS, color, 90 min.
Adult
Biography, European Studies, History, Women's Studies


Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 


In this multi-layered documentary, an event that occurred over 40 years ago serves as the starting point for an essay that is both intimate and sweeping in scope. Using archived film, interviews and family history, Irene Lusztig tells a complex story of her grandmother, mother, Cold War communism and the subjectivity of images and memories.

In September, 1959, five men and one woman robbed an armored car in Bucharest, Romania. All the members of the “Ioanid Gang” were subsequently arrested, tried and sentenced. Forced to re-enact the crime for a government-produced propaganda film, the convicts became actors in their own personal tragedies. The robbery as a single futile act that destroyed a family and a movie that forces the audience to question the veracity of historical records forms the context of Lusztig’s film.

Entry and winner at several international film festivals, Reconstruction is beautifully constructed, photographed, and edited. It is the juxtaposition between personal story and political history that particularly draws the viewer’s attention. Because of the complexity of the subject matter and two graphic execution scenes, this documentary is intended for adult audiences. Highly recommended for public or academic libraries whose patrons are interested in the need for an ongoing examination of the past.