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My mother has a recurring dream of being back on the street where she grew up in Bucharest. In her dream, she walks toward her house, looking for a certain familiar crack where the pavement split open and grass grew out. She thinks if she can just find this crack, then she’ll be able to reorient herself — that the city will fall into place. Instead, she can’t find the crack, nothing looks familiar, and she can’t find her house.

In communist Romania 1959, my maternal grandmother, Monica Sevianu, took part in a sensational bank heist and was condemned to life in prison. Forty years later, I returned to Bucharest to reassemble the pieces of her shocking story and construct a portrait of my enigmatic grandmother.  RECONSTRUCTION (90 minutes, 2001) centers on the event of the so-called Ioanid Gang bank heist and the subsequent 1961 production of a government-sponsored propaganda film in which the five perpetrators were forced to re-enact their own crime on camera (also called Reconstruction). An investigation of intimate family memories expands into a meditation on the ways that a regime reinvents itself through its images–an exploration of representation, reality, and authoritarianism. Through a combination of archival images, contemporary images, interview, and observational footage, RECONSTRUCTION asks questions about images, truth, history, and political theater.

“Vivid, thrilling…a film of ambition and scope” – The Boston Phoenix

“This amazing feature… should screen at film schools as an example of personal documentary at its best.” – Variety

“Lusztig’s version of the ‘facts’ unfolds as a sophisticated, poetic reflection on portraiture and historical detective work… Lusztig’s film is a long-awaited gift…Reconstruction is a necessary ‘re-writing’ of history.” – DOX magazine




– Boston Society of Film Critics ‘Rediscoveries / Discoveries’ Award (2001)
– Best Documentary, New England Film Festival (April 2002)
– Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival (April 2002)


– Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA (April 2010)
– Romanian Cultural Institute, Bucharest, Romania (February 2010)
– Romanian Cultural Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (April 2009)
– The Jewish Channel cable broadcast (2007)
– ARTE (France and Germany) television broadcast (September 2004)
– Haifa International Film Festival (October 2003)
– Berlin Jewish Film Festival (June 2003)
– Toronto Jewish Film Festival (May 2003)
– Independent Film Festival of Boston (May 2003)
– Fribourg International Film Festival, Switzerland (March 2003)
– Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison (March 2003)
– Cleveland International Film Festival (March 2003)
– Director’s View Film Festival, Norwalk, Connecticut (February 2003)
– Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival (December 2002)
– MoMA Documentary Fortnight, New York (December 2002)
– Vancouver International Film Festival (October 2002)
– Atlanta Film Festival (June 2002)
– Jerusalem Cinemateque Repertory Screening (May 2002)
– Singapore International Film Festival (April 2002)
– It’s All True Documentary Film Festival, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro (April 2002)
– Docaviv Documentary Festival, Tel Aviv (April 2002)
– IDFA 2001 Amsterdam International Documentary Festival, International Premiere, FIPRESCI award nomination (November 2001)
– Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston USA, World Premiere (October 2001)



Boston Phoenix review of Reconstruction
“Reconstructing the Romanian Past” – in conversation with Maria Gambale on