Radu Jude's Uppercase Print is showing exclusively on MUBI in many countries starting February 17, 2021 in the series Festival Focus: Berlinale.
The film is based on a documentary play by Gianina Cărbunariu who explained in this way its genesis:
"In 2011, I spent a few months going through files at the National Council for Studying the Secret Sevices (Securitate) Archives (CNSAS) because I was interested in how each of them was built up, but also because I was trying to figure out what this 'collective novel' with so many authors—Securitate officers and collaborators—would mean today. In 2011, there were about 20 kilometres of files in the CNSAS archive. When I returned, a few years later, the length had doubled. I only learned of Mugur Călinescu’s case in 2012, from Marius Oprea’s book Șase feluri de a muri [Six Ways to Die]. I wanted to read the original file, so I contacted historians Mihail Bumbeș and Mihai Burcea, who gave me access to his two case folders, 'The Panel' and 'The Pupil,' and to recordings of their interviews in 2007 with some of the officers who handled the case in 1981. At first, I was mostly interested in the phenomenon of enrolling highschool pupils as collaborators in the 80s, because I had learned, from discussions with experts in Romania and abroad, that they were surprisingly numerous here, while in other Eastern European countries enrolling minors was more of an exception. I chose Mugur Călinescu’s case because his file had both references to the phenomenon of enrolling minors and mentions of an exception, which the file, written in a highly standardised language, had failed to completely obscure. Mugur’s story is that of a 16-year-old in a small town who, coming up against an oppressive mechanism that gradually cuts him off from friends and family, still manages to convey, even in his statements under interrogation (obviously constricted by standard formulae), signs of free thinking at a time when people were afraid of their own thoughts. The file and the interviews with former Securitate officers are not mere “traces” of an episode in recent history; they challenge us to question the society we live in now—which was one of the goals of this play."
As for me, I saw the play in 2012 and I remember thinking how a film inspired by the same case would never work, for many reasons. But I kept thinking of the play and I suppose the decision to turn it into a film lies in my increased interest in archives, which developed after seeing it. What Gianina did is very close to how I myself am interested in using archive materials to build up some of my films.
Gianina took a Securitate file, chose fragments from it, and made a collage. By putting together the documents (and dramatising them here and there) she created a story, a coherent narrative construction. Of course, this narration can be questioned in many aspects—and it has been done, I believe, or should be done by historians, theatre critics a.s.o.
What I decided to do beyond what Gianina did (or, rather, not beyond, but differently) was replacing the collage with montage—systematically breaking up Gianina’s story and turning it into a work of montage, in which each picture collides with another and their joining generates ideas for the audience.