— In early 2014 I was a fellow at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD. I was developing and waiting to hear about the production calendar for Eldorado XXI (2016). The resources allowed me to visit Transnistria with a small collaborative crew and no guarantees of success in crossing the internal ‘border’ Moldova/Transnistria–We were all doing it ‘for the ride’, S.D., J.P.R, later joined by A.C.

We landed around 7pm and A.C picked us at Chisinau’s airport. We drove straight to the nearest ‘border’. We managed to cross. You have to register at a particular address if you want to remain beyond the granted 24h.

Only in the countryside we managed to make friends easily and found accommodation at some villager’s house.

We cast Kolja for the main role of an existing film. We shot for ten uninterrupted days under tight surveillance from local authorities – KGB.

The war in Ukraine is burning. In early 2015 my producer allocates a small fund to a second shooting. We apply for journalist visas with a ‘script’.

Every Transnistrian resident can issue a Russian passport, on the top of that we wire Kolja the amount that would allow for him to ask for a Bulgarian visa. We would take him on a road trip. We were friends.

The visas take too long. Nevertheless we book the crew their plane tickets; I fit 7.000 EUR in my pockets; S.D is bringing a few other thousands from Berlin. Two days before departing all the crewmembers are granted journalist accreditations – including the Moldovan nationals.

The shooting runs as expected for 20 days; the only ‘incident’ was recorded and is reported below. We were shooting next to the border with Ukraine. There is no consular protection in the territory.

I’m unsure if I’ll ever get to meet our friends again.

The film Extinction is blocked due to lack of resources.

/tc 00:36:10:04 00:36:13:00
– Damn, what is going on?

/tc 00:36:20:00 00:36:22:01
– Hello.

/tc 00:36:22:20 00:36:24:15
How are you?
– Everything fine.

/tc 00:36:24:18 00:36:27:03
What is going on?
– Hello to all.

/tc 00:36:27:07 00:36:29:11
Why are you all gathered here?
Do you speak Russian?

/tc 00:36:29:14 00:36:31:21
Yes, but not all.
– Some do others don’t?

/tc 00:36:32:03 00:36:34:20
Where are your documents?
– Do you have them?

/tc 00:36:35:00 00:36:36:21
Where? Show us.
– We already showed you.

/tc 00:36:37:01 00:36:39:22
Yes, but not to me. Passport.
– The passport.

/tc 00:36:43:20 00:36:45:08
Where do you come from and
where are you going to?

/tc 00:36:45:20 00:36:47:17
– What have you been doing there?

/tc 00:36:49:04 00:36:51:13
Right. I notice that your faces are familiar.

/tc 00:36:53:18 00:36:55:19
Where did you register?

/tc 00:36:56:05 00:36:58:06
We entered and left in Yari.

/tc 00:36:58:13 00:37:00:23
Don’t you have time?
– Where were you lodged?

/tc 00:37:01:02 00:37:02:09
No, no.

/tc 00:37:02:12 00:37:04:15
Did you enter through Moldova?
– Yes.

/tc 00:37:04:20 00:37:07:03
In what Moldovan address are
you registered?

/tc 00:37:07:06 00:37:10:18
All of you?
– Well…we rented an apartment.

/tc 00:37:10:23 00:37:14:07
Still, there must be some kind
of registration in the EU?

/tc 00:37:14:11 00:37:17:20
The EU doesn’t require registration.
– Today you won’t need it, right?

/tc 00:37:17:22 00:37:19:03
Did you only enter and leave?
– Yes.

/tc 00:37:19:07 00:37:21:06
Rented an apartment in Moldova?
– Yes.

/tc 00:37:21:09 00:37:23:20
What for?
– Are you the translator?

/tc 00:37:23:23 00:37:25:14
Yes, I translate.

/tc 00:37:25:17 00:37:29:01
Are you Moldovan?
– No, I’m Ukrainian.

/tc 00:37:29:07 00:37:31:23
From Ukraine.
– And have you just arrived with them?

/tc 00:37:32:02 00:37:35:01
Yes, they don’t know
Russian and I do.

/tc 00:37:35:08 00:37:38:04
I want to know what are you shooting here.
– Cinema.

/tc 00:37:38:07 00:37:40:11
You should’ve called before.

/tc 00:37:40:20 00:37:44:03
I understand that you’re shooting but…
Is it over or what?

/tc 00:37:44:08 00:37:47:11
No, it is still the same film.
– Haven’t you finished yet?

/tc 00:37:47:14 00:37:53:02
Why Transnistria, what is the reason?
Is it Moldova and Transnistria separately?

/tc 00:37:53:18 00:37:57:19
The main theme is the Transnistrian territory.
– What is he smoking? Show it.

/tc 00:37:58:00 00:38:01:05
– Don’t our cigarettes please you?

/tc 00:38:01:08 00:38:06:05
He’s used to roll.
– Our cigarettes are expensive outside.

/tc 00:38:06:08 00:38:08:17
Are they expensive where he lives?
– Yes.

/tc 00:38:08:20 00:38:10:10
Damn, here you can smoke them.

/tc 00:38:10:12 00:38:13:06
That’s why they smoke tobacco.
It’s twice less expensive.

/tc 00:38:13:10 00:38:16:01
If you have a chance, you should
smoke our cigarettes.

/tc 00:38:16:04 00:38:19:05
It might be better for him.
– I’m joking.

/tc 00:38:20:10 00:38:24:22
They bought it.
– Here everyone always smokes cigarettes.

/tc 00:38:25:01 00:38:28:16
I was also surprised.
For them, cigarettes are chic.

/tc 00:38:28:19 00:38:32:00
It’s expensive, you can
buy it for up to 5EUR abroad.

/tc 00:38:32:03 00:38:37:18
That’s too expensive.
– Non-smoking costs less, here it is the opposite.

/tc 00:38:40:00 00:38:44:13
They tasted and purchased the “Soyuz”
cigarettes, with no filter.

/tc 00:38:44:21 00:38:47:14
Too strong for them.

/tc 00:38:49:11 00:38:52:19
Who is financing this expedition?

/tc 00:38:53:09 00:38:55:13
Is she the director?
– Yes, the director.

/tc 00:38:55:16 00:38:58:13
Who ordered it to be about Transnistria?
– Herself.

/tc 00:38:58:15 00:39:02:11
Has she decided?
Is there any particular aim?

/tc 00:39:02:14 00:39:06:03
Interesting. No? What are you
shooting in Transnistria?

/tc 00:39:06:06 00:39:09:06
That’s true.
On television?

/tc 00:39:09:09 00:39:12:14
There’s nothing to see,
everything is adulterated.

/tc 00:39:12:18 00:39:15:07
Especially in western television.

/tc 00:39:17:03 00:39:20:05
Everything is clear about you.
I certainly want to watch the film.

/tc 00:39:20:08 00:39:23:16
But isn’t there a script explaining
what the film is about?

/tc 00:39:23:19 00:39:27:07
Is it about ordinary people
or other things?

/tc 00:39:27:10 00:39:33:03
Is it an interesting project about Transnistria?
Or are there any other interests?

/tc 00:39:33:06 00:39:36:22
There must be something else.
– History!

/tc 00:39:37:01 00:39:41:03
The history of Transnistria? Did you visit the
United Work Collective Council Office (OSTK)?

/tc 00:39:41:06 00:39:46:01
OSTK can tell you the origins.
– Yes. That’s why we did some interviews with them.

/tc 00:39:46:07 00:39:48:12
Have you interviewed people?
– Yes.

/tc 00:39:48:15 00:39:51:05
Who’s the car owner?
– We rented it.

/tc 00:39:51:08 00:39:55:21
In Chisinau? …Is the driver from Chisinau?
– Yes.

/tc 00:39:56:06 00:40:00:07
Are you from Chisinau?
– Yes.

/tc 00:40:00:10 00:40:02:07
Is it interesting?
– Very.

/tc 00:40:02:10 00:40:05:19
What border have you crossed today?
– We came through Dubassari.

/tc 00:40:05:22 00:40:09:15
Did you came right in our direction?
To Lenin?

/tc 00:40:09:18 00:40:12:13
Yes, we came to Lenin with Kolja.

/tc 00:40:12:16 00:40:17:00
Who is Kolja? This is Kolja, right?
– Yes, that’s Kolja.

/tc 00:40:17:03 00:40:18:22
This is Kolja.

/tc 00:40:19:01 00:40:22:04
Kolja, what have you wanted to show them?
– Me?

/tc 00:40:22:07 00:40:25:14
Yes, where have you been?
– To Lenin, I live here.

/tc 00:40:25:17 00:40:28:06
But did you go to your house or what?
Or have you been shooting again?

/tc 00:40:28:09 00:40:32:04
No. To Oksana.

/tc 00:40:32:10 00:40:34:10
– Natasha.

/tc 00:40:34:13 00:40:36:00
– Oksana.

/tc 00:40:36:03 00:40:38:07
Who’s she?
– And the grandmother.

/tc 00:40:38:10 00:40:43:23
There’s an old woman and an old man.
We wanted to talk to them.

/tc 00:40:44:02 00:40:46:10
Are they Kolja’s grandparents?
– No.

/tc 00:40:46:15 00:40:51:02
What have you wanted to talk about?
– Nothing special.

/tc 00:40:51:05 00:40:55:14
Considering that Moldova almost
entered the European Union.

/tc 00:40:55:17 00:40:58:19
It is easier to cross the border,
no documents are needed,

/tc 00:40:58:22 00:41:00:16
nor registration is required as before.
– No, only a form.

/tc 00:41:00:19 00:41:04:17
And how many Moldovans do you see there in EU?
– That I don’t know.

/tc 00:41:04:20 00:41:06:22
I just know they have biometric passports too.

/tc 00:41:07:02 00:41:08:21
Do you have a biometric passport?
– You don’t need.

/tc 00:41:09:00 00:41:12:16
They arrive at any time, they rent an
apartment and live there as the others…

/tc 00:41:12:19 00:41:17:16
I’m not sure. If it’s for a long term stay
I guess you must register.

/tc 00:41:17:19 00:41:22:09
Are these people here for a long term?
– No, they stay until the 4th of February.

/tc 00:41:22:13 00:41:28:23
– Isn’t that a ‘long term stay’?
A ‘long term stay’ is more than three months.

/tc 00:41:29:14 00:41:31:18
Now they’re here as tourists.

/tc 00:41:31:21 00:41:35:23
Have you filmed anything today in Ribnita?
– In Ribnita today…let’s see.

/tc 00:41:36:02 00:41:41:08
Yes, near the hotel…
We filmed him leaving…

/tc 00:41:41:12 00:41:44:01
Who, Kolja?
– Yes, leaving the hotel.

/tc 00:41:44:05 00:41:47:05
Is Kolja the protagonist?
– Yes…

/tc 00:41:49:12 00:41:53:03
Kolja, what do you do in Ribnita?
– I work.

/tc 00:41:53:06 00:41:57:04
– In the Russian Regiment.

/tc 00:41:57:07 00:42:00:04
Do you work or serve in the Russian Regiment?
– I work as a civilian.

/tc 00:42:00:07 00:42:02:17
As a civilian?
– Yes.

/tc 00:42:04:13 00:42:07:10
In the lifting works?
– What?

/tc 00:42:07:15 00:42:09:15
In the lifting works?
– No, no.

/tc 00:42:09:18 00:42:12:04
– Surveillance.

/tc 00:42:12:20 00:42:14:23
I can’t hear you!
– Surveillance…

/tc 00:42:15:02 00:42:17:16
So you’re a guard?
– Yes, yes.

/tc 00:42:20:11 00:42:22:04

/tc 00:42:24:15 00:42:26:15
That cell phone doesn’t have signal.

/tc 00:42:26:22 00:42:31:08
She has brought you presents.
– You should’ve called before.

/tc 00:42:31:11 00:42:35:09
You should’ve called before.
Now we’ll have to escort you to Tiraspol (capital).

/tc 00:42:35:17 00:42:37:17
– With whom?

/tc 00:42:37:20 00:42:39:09

/tc 00:42:41:23 00:42:45:10
I’m going to be punished.
– Seriously?

/tc 00:42:49:23 00:42:52:18
Why are you going to be punished?

/tc 00:42:54:02 00:42:55:09
Yes. Yes.

/tc 00:42:55:16 00:43:01:04
The two individuals with the cameras
should go in the jeep.

/tc 00:43:01:07 00:43:07:21
Me and Vitali Yurievich will go in the van,
to divide ourselves.

/tc 00:43:10:00 00:43:14:12
You should’ve called yesterday,
warning that you would arrive today.

/tc 00:43:14:15 00:43:18:08
Then I would have met you…

/tc 00:43:25:00 00:43:27:18
Now, it’ll be difficult.

/tc 00:43:35:23 00:43:41:22
Are you planning to return to
Moldova after this trip?

/tc 00:43:42:02 00:43:45:18
Yes, because we didn’t register for long.
– You entered for a day or what?

/tc 00:43:46:01 00:43:48:21
For about six-eight hours.

/tc 00:43:49:08 00:43:52:14
Is the visa for less than a day?
– Yes, yes.

/tc 00:43:53:18 00:43:56:22
Did everyone register when you crossed the border?
– Yes.

/tc 00:43:57:01 00:44:00:02
Do you all have the migration cards?
They must be in your passports.

/tc 00:44:00:05 00:44:01:18
They didn’t give us that.
– They didn’t?

/tc 00:44:01:21 00:44:05:18
They only returned us our passports
with the accreditations.

/tc 00:44:06:03 00:44:08:21
All clear. Do you have an accreditation
for the Transnistrian territory?

/tc 00:44:09:00 00:44:12:03
– When does it expire?

/tc 00:44:12:06 00:44:15:10
Yes, it is valid until February.

/tc 00:44:16:07 00:44:17:20
For a month.

/tc 00:44:20:18 00:44:23:05
Kolya, when should you go work?
– Tomorrow.

/tc 00:44:23:08 00:44:24:23
As a guard?
– Yes.

/tc 00:44:25:02 00:44:29:08
You’re a Russian citizen, correct?
– I have their passport.

/tc 00:44:29:11 00:44:33:01
If you have their passport you are a Russian
citizen. Why are you so uncertain?

/tc 00:44:33:04 00:44:34:09
Well… Yes…

/tc 00:44:34:12 00:44:36:22
You have their passport and you don’t
know to which country you belong to.

/tc 00:44:37:01 00:44:40:07
Nikolai Nikolaevich, maybe we shouldn’t
be wasting time.

/tc 00:44:40:10 00:44:42:16
Should Romanich write it or will it take too long?
– We don’t need that.

/tc 00:44:42:19 00:44:49:14
The situation has changed and
you’ll have to be escorted to Tiraspol.

/tc 00:44:50:13 00:44:52:04
– It’s on your way out.

/tc 00:44:52:07 00:44:57:01
We need to TALK to you in more detail.
There is no need to stay here in the open field.

/tc 00:44:58:03 00:45:02:22
Let’s go. Let’s go! In half an hour
we’ll be in Tiraspol.

Salomé Lamas was born in 1987, in Lisbon. Her work has been screened both in art venues and film festivals such as Berlinale – Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, NIMK – Netherlands Instituut voor Mediakunst, Festival Internazionale del Cinema di Roma, BAFICI, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, FIAC, MNAC – Museu do Chiado, DocLisboa, Cinema du Réel, Visions du Réel, MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, Pacific Film Archive, Harvard Film Archive, Museum of Moving Images NY, Jewish Museum NY, Fid Marseille, Arsenal Institut fur film und videokunst, Viennale, Hong Kong Film Festival, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Serralves – Museu de Arte Comtemporânea, Tate Modern, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Genève, Bozar – Palais des Beaux-Arts, TABAKALERA, ICA – The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Mostra de São Paulo, CAC – Contemporary Art Center Vilnius, Ann Harbor.Lamas was granted several fellowships such as The Gardner Film Study Center Fellowship – Harvard University, The Rockefeller Foundation – Bellagio Center, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Fundação Oriente, Bogliasco Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD.