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A film by Irene Lusztig
US, 2001, 90 minutes, Color/BW, DVD, English/Romanian/French/Hebrew, Subtitled
Order No. W03782
Filmmaker Irene Lusztig unearths a dark family secret in search of answers and reconciliation in her breakthrough feature documentary, RECONSTRUCTION. In communist Romania 1959, Lusztig’s maternal grandmother, Monica Sevianu, took part in a failed bank robbery (known as the Ioanid Gang bank heist) and was condemned to life in prison. Forty years later, the filmmaker returns to Bucharest to reassemble the pieces of her shocking story and construct a portrait of her estranged and enigmatic grandmother.

The title of the documentary derives from a bizarre government propaganda film that reenacts the crime and trial of the robbery and shockingly stars the actual members of the Ioanid Gang – including Monica Sevianu. This surreal docu-drama incorporates interviews, contemporary footage shot in Bucharest and rare archival images, Lusztig reveals a mesmerizing family story spanning three generations about the subversive crime of six Jewish intellectuals, while presenting a compelling and complex examination of modern-day Romania.


  • IDFA Amsterdam International Documentary Festival - FIPRESCI Jury Nomination
  • San Francisco International Film Festival - Certificate of Merit
  • Boston Society of Film Critics - "Rediscoveries/Discoveries" Award Boston Society of Film Critics - "Rediscoveries/Discoveries" Award
  • New England Film Festival - Best Documentary
  • Vancouver International Film Festival
  • Docaviv Documentary Film Festival
  • It's All True Sao Paolo Documentary Film Festival
  • Singapore International Film Festival
  • Cleveland International Film Festival
  • Documentary Fortnight, Museum of Modern Art, NY
  • Boston International Women's Film Festival
  • Atlanta Film Festival
  • Palic International Film Festival Serbia
  • Alpe Adria Cinema Film Festival Italy
  • New York Jewish Women Film Festival

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    “This amazing feature…should screen at film schools as an example of personal docu at its best.”
    Ken Eisner

    "Vivid, thrilling...a film of ambition and scope...one of the best films of 2001."
    Gerald Peary
    The Boston Phoenix

    "Lusztig's version of the 'facts' unfolds as a sophisticated, poetic reflection on potraiture and historical detective work...Lusztig's film is a long-awaited gift...'Reconstruction' is a necessary 're-writing' of history."
    Adina Bradeanu
    DOX Magazine

    "Far more than a curiosity of family anecdote, the story touches on issues of ideology, racism, freedom, and love - not to mention the nature of filmmaking itself."
    Peter Keough
    The Boston Phoenix

    ”…evokes powerful family relationships and the complex post-communist changes in Eastern Europe.”
    Catherine Portuges
    Film Studies, Univ. of Massachusetts

    “Multi-layered and complex…The film is of interest to those concerned with Eastern European politics and history, women in prison, and media politics.”
    Barbara Mennel
    German & Cinema Studies, UC Berkeley

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