Despite the slot reserved for it in my personal (and beloved) "depressing Eastern European films" file, 12:08 East to Bucharest was in fact the funniest movie I saw in Toronto. The first feature from Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu, it contains moments so hilarious they not only hurt when you experience them for the first time, but also keep the theater alive with laughter for the few minutes that follow, as everyone around you replays the scenes in their heads and finds themselves captivated again by the memories. At times, the laughter was so loud and so long that I was glad the film was in Romanian and had subtitles, because the dialogue was entirely inaudible.

Set in a small town outside of Bucharest on December 22, 2005 -- the 16th anniversary of the fall of Ceausescu -- the movie documents the efforts of Jderescu (Teodor Corban), a textile engineer/TV station owner, to assemble a panel for a live TV show on the revolution, and then to keep that show in order, once it goes on-air. When he's let down by the "prestigious" panel he'd originally lined up, Jderescu, out of desperation, digs up two last-minute guests: Manescu (Ion Sapdaru), a weary college professor who claims to have spear-headed the town's "revolution" in 1989, and Old Man Piscoci (Mircea Andreescu) who gets the call, it appears, mostly because he's old, and Jderescu happens to see a picture of him the morning of the show.