Grandmother Bunica

„I think you have to count on the present and the future. If we didn’t have any prospects for the future why should we even think, work, hope?”
(Ana Ionescu, April 2002)

Ana Ionescu and her life story are the film’s unifying theme. From King Carol to Ceaucescu the dictator she lived through the sweeping social and political changes Romania underwent in the 20th century.

Bunica als junges Mädchen

Born in 1915 into an old aristocratic family, she grew up in the flourishing Bucharest of the 20s, then called the Paris of the East. Her father was the city’s vice-mayor. Ana Ionescu-Aslan, who led a sheltered existence while growing up, was prepared for a life as a society lady and a wife.

In 1935 she decides against marrying for love, enters into an arranged marriage and moves with her husband
to Mussolini’s Rome. She then returned to a Bucharest
ruled by a fascist dictatorship. The family protected
Jews from persecution for pay.

Bunica mit ihrem Sohn

After the Communists came to power her husband was sent to a work camp for two years. During this time she fed the family by trading on the black market. Whatever was not confiscated by the state later fell victim to her husband’s gambling addiction.

Shortly thereafter her husband forced her into a divorce and from that time one she clothed and fed her children alone. Because of his aristocratic
background her son was not permitted to study at a
university. Ana Ionescu took on the forged persona
of a worker and found employment as a bus
conductor and later as an employee at a wood
repository. Her son was then permitted to sign up at
the university.

Bunica in der Küche

In 1969 she was forced to say goodbye to her son when he fled to Austria.
She remarried at the age of 62, and her second husband died a few years later. She still lives in his apartment, surrounded by mementos, with an imposing background of statues that has hardly changed since the 30s. Mirrored doors conceal a tiny kitchen and a bathroom in serious need of repairs.

Bunica liegt vor der Spiegelwand

Every day Ana Ionescu-Aslan practices tai chi, keeps up with current political events, fights for her confiscated possessions and, now 89 years old, still trades on the stock market.

While she originally wanted to be an actress, Ana Ionescu is now a bunica, a grandmother.