8th of March

"8th of March" shows how even the good parts of communist philosophy have been bankrupted by subsequent governments.

March 8 was the day when Soviet-bloc countries saluted working women, and “8th of March” shows how even the good parts of communist philosophy have been bankrupted by subsequent governments. In this strong feature-length docu debut, Alexandru Belc trains his observational camera on women laborers in five workplaces, conjuring comparisons between the gleaming promise of Soviet mechanization and the current reality of drudgery and decrepitude. Though it can feel slightly repetitious, this handsome, affecting docu deserves a place in nonfiction fest slots.

The day is still referred to as Intl. Women’s Day, but the holiday’s function as a celebration of female equality in the workforce was largely dropped after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Belc went to five locales in Romania and spent two years following women through their work day from start to finish; tight editing makes it appear as if everything happens within the space of one long shift.

Popular on Variety

Most troubling is a quartet of tough broads who refuse to wear required filter masks while sweeping coal dust in an antiquated processing plant. One woman even admits she doubts she’ll make it to 60, and auds have the uncomfortable sensation of watching lung tumors grow. Despite their exhausting, dangerous jobs, these women end their days readying themselves to cook and clean for their husbands; so much for equality.

Elsewhere, a female tram driver speaks of the joy she gets from her amateur folklore group, underplaying her palpable frustration at declining the chance years earlier, on her husband’s insistence, of going pro as a singer. In another city, a hard-working garment workshop supervisor sternly oversees a group of seamstresses; and in yet another locale, a female guard gives a tour of a factory whose vast, empty spaces and state of decay make clear the failed promise of communist industry.

Belc doesn’t use any archival footage, but viewers familiar with Soviet propaganda films extolling the glories of synchronized conveyor belts and ballet mechanique pistons can’t help but make comparisons with the grimy-walled factories of the present, ill lit and strewn with soot-covered detritus. The docu is full of moments of silence, reflecting their mindless labor interrupted only by equally routine breaks.

At first, the helmer seems to be color-coding his sequences, presenting a starkly white room with white factory coats and boots, then cutting to an intensely blue elevator and the garment overseer in a blue coat. Continuing this vision all the way through would have been impossible, especially as the majority of scenes exist in the faded grays of aging factories. Belc’s well-trained eye means that even casual handheld shots have a satisfying grace.

8th of March


Production: A Libra Film production. (International sales: Libra Film, Bucharest.) Produced by Tudor Giurgiu. Directed by Alexandru Belc. Written by Belc, Tudor Giurgiu.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Belc; editor, Ioachim Stroe; sound, Vlad Voinescu; assistant director, Miruna Boruzescu. Reviewed at Transylvania Film Festival (Romanian Days), June 9, 2012. Running time: 73 MIN.

More Film

  • Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star

    'Bad Boys for Life' Triumphs on MLK Weekend With $73 Million Launch

    “Bad Boys for Life” has given a jolt to the North American box office, blasting past forecasts with a $73.4 million opening over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The third iteration of the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence action comedy franchise will finish the Friday-Monday as Sony Pictures’ biggest R-rated opening ever and the industry’s [...]

  • Laurene Powell Jobs

    Laurene Powell Jobs Invests in Davis Guggenheim's Concordia Studio

    Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim and Jonathan King are launching Concordia Studio in partnership with Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective. Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, founded social change organization Emerson Collective in 2004. Emerson Collective became the majority owner of the Atlantic in 2017 and made an investment in 2018 in Reese [...]

  • Jumbo

    Noémie Merlant on Sundance Player 'Jumbo,' Feature Directorial Debut 'Mi Lubita'

    French actor Noémie Merlant plays a young woman who falls in love with a funfair ride in Zoé Wittock’s “Jumbo,” which is screening in Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Variety spoke to her about the film, and her debut feature as director “Mi Lubita.” Merlant is viewed as one of the most promising actors of [...]

  • Under the Stars of Paris

    Claus Drexel on 'Under the Stars of Paris,' and Prostitution Documentary 'The Amazons'

    One of the widest-selling titles at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous, a showcase of French cinema that wraps Monday, is Claus Drexel’s “Under the Stars of Paris.” The French-German speaks to Variety about the pic and his upcoming prostitution documentary “The Amazons.” “Under the Stars of Paris” centers on a homeless woman – played by Catherine Frot [...]

  • Farewell Movie 2019

    Why 'The Farewell' Flopped In China

    “The Farewell” has flopped in China with a dismal $261,000 opening weekend gross, and a cumulative of $580,000 so far, once again proving the difficulty of creating content that resonates equally on both sides of the Pacific — even when a story is set in China, features Chinese talent, and unfolds primarily in Mandarin. Although [...]

  • Loic Barche on Short 'The Atomic

    Loic Barche on Short 'The Atomic Adventure,' Upcoming Feature Debut 'Feu de Paille'

    “The Atomic Adventure,” a contender in UniFrance’s online MyFrenchFilmFestival, is the third short from Loïc Barché (“Goliath,” “Le Commencement”). Variety talked to the director about the short, and his feature debut “Feu de Paille.” “The Atomic Adventure,” produced by young French outfits Punchline Cinéma and Leonis Productions, is set in 1961 in Algeria, where France [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content