— The war in Ukraine is burning. In early 2015 a Portuguese producer allocates a symbolic fund that allows for a return to Transnistria, a pro-Russian frozen-conflict in Moldova. We apply for journalist visas with a fake “script”.

The visas take too long. Nevertheless we book the crew their plane tickets; I fit part of the available budget in my pockets; S.D carries the rest from Berlin. Two days before departing all the crew members are granted journalist accreditations – including the Moldovan nationals.

The shooting runs as expected for 20 days; the only “incident” was recorded and is reported in Self-Portrait. 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.

Transcript of dialogues

February 2015 – Conversation with the KGB, military checkpoint, Kuchurgan (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, Moldova) | Pervomaisk (Ukraine). Transcript of dialogues. The inquiry continued at KGB headquarters, Tiraspol (P.M.R., Moldova). It was not recorded.

/tc 00:37:54:05 00:37:57:15
– Damn, what is going on?

/tc 00:38:04:01 00:38:06:09
– Hello.

/tc 00:38:06:21 00:38:08:16
How are you?
– Everything is fine.

/tc 00:38:08:19 00:38:11:05
What is going on?
– Hello everybody.

/tc 00:38:11:08 00:38:13:15
Why are you all gathered here?
– Who speaks Russian?

/tc 00:38:13:18 00:38:16:01
Yes, but not all of them.
– Some do, the others don’t?

/tc 00:38:16:04 00:38:18:22
Where are the documents?
– Do you have them?

/tc 00:38:19:01 00:38:20:23
Where? Show us.
– We already showed you.

/tc 00:38:21:02 00:38:24:02
Yes, but not to me. Passport.
– The passport.

/tc 00:38:27:17 00:38:30:15
Where do you come from and where are you going to?
– Lenin.

/tc 00:38:30:18 00:38:36:00
What have you been doing there?
– Right, I recognize your faces.

/tc 00:38:37:15 00:38:42:12
Where did you register?
– They entered and left…

/tc 00:38:42:15 00:38:46:10
You’re out of time? Where were you lodged?
– No, no.

/tc 00:38:46:13 00:38:48:18
Did you enter through Moldova?
– Yes

/tc 00:38:48:21 00:38:54:19
Which Moldovan address are you all registered in?
– Well… we rented an apartment.

/tc 00:38:55:00 00:38:58:09
Still, there must be some kind
of registration in the EU?

/tc 00:38:58:12 00:39:01:21
The EU doesn’t require registration.
Today you won’t need it, right?
– Yes.

/tc 00:39:02:00 00:39:05:07
You only entered and left?
Rented an apartment in Moldova?
– Yes

/tc 00:39:05:10 00:39:09:15
What for? Are you the translator?
– Yes, I am.

/tc 00:39:09:18 00:39:13:05
Are you Moldovan?
– No, I’m Ukrainian.

/tc 00:39:13:08 00:39:16:00
From Ukraine. And you’ve
just arrived with them?

/tc 00:39:16:03 00:39:19:00
Yes, they don’t speak
Russian and I do.

/tc 00:39:19:03 00:39:24:12
Interesting. I want to know what you are shooting.
– You should’ve called before.

/tc 00:39:24:16 00:39:28:06
– I understand that you’re shooting
but… Is it over or what?

/tc 00:39:28:09 00:39:31:12
No, it is still the same film.
– Haven’t you finished yet?

/tc 00:39:31:15 00:39:37:16
Why Transnistria, what is the reason?
– Is it Moldova and Transnistria separately?

/tc 00:39:37:19 00:39:41:20
The main theme is Transnistria.
– What is he smoking? Show me.

/tc 00:39:41:23 00:39:45:06
– Our cigarettes don’t please you?

/tc 00:39:45:09 00:39:50:06
He’s used to rollies.
– Our cigarettes are expensive outside.

/tc 00:39:50:09 00:39:52:18
Are they expensive where he lives? …Yes.
– Yes.

/tc 00:39:52:21 00:39:57:08
Damn, here you can smoke them.
– That’s why they smoke tobacco. Half the price.

/tc 00:39:57:11 00:40:00:02
If you have the opportunity,
you should try smoking our cigarettes.

/tc 00:40:00:05 00:40:04:02
It might be better for him.
– Joking…

/tc 00:40:04:08 00:40:08:23
They bought some.
– Here everyone always smokes cigarettes.

/tc 00:40:09:02 00:40:12:17
I was also surprised.
For them, cigarettes are chic.
– Yes?

/tc 00:40:12:20 00:40:16:01
It’s expensive, you can
buy it for 5€

/tc 00:40:16:04 00:40:22:11
That’s too expensive.
– Not smoking costs less, here it’s the opposite.

/tc 00:40:23:21 00:40:28:14
They tasted and bought the Soyuz
cigarettes, with no filter.

/tc 00:40:28:19 00:40:32:12
Too strong for them.
– Yes.

/tc 00:40:33:12 00:40:37:03
Who is financing this expedition?

/tc 00:40:37:07 00:40:39:14
Is she the director?
– Yes, the director.

/tc 00:40:39:17 00:40:42:14
Who ordered it to be about Transnistria?
– She did.

/tc 00:40:42:16 00:40:46:12
She decided?
Is there any particular objective?

/tc 00:40:46:15 00:40:50:01
Interesting, no?
– What are you shooting in Transnistria?

/tc 00:40:50:04 00:40:52:18
That’s true.
– On television?

/tc 00:40:52:21 00:40:56:15
There’s nothing to see.
– Everything is adulterated.

/tc 00:40:56:18 00:40:59:14
Especially in Western television.

/tc 00:41:01:04 00:41:04:06
Everything’s clear with you now.
– I certainly want to see the film.

/tc 00:41:04:09 00:41:07:17
But isn’t there a script explaining
what the film is about?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:07:20 00:41:11:08
Is it about the lives of ordinary
people or other things?

/tc 00:41:11:11 00:41:17:04
Is it a worthwhile project about Transnistria?
Or are there any other interests?

/tc 00:41:17:07 00:41:20:23
There must be something else.
– The history.

/tc 00:41:21:02 00:41:25:04
The history of Transnistria? Did you go to
United Work Collective Council office?

/tc 00:41:25:07 00:41:30:05
OSTK can tell you the origin.
– Yes, that’s why we did some interviews.

/tc 00:41:30:08 00:41:32:13
Have you interviewed people?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:32:16 00:41:35:06
Who owns the car?
– We rented it.

/tc 00:41:35:09 00:41:39:22
In Chișinău? …Is the driver from Chișinău?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:40:07 00:41:44:08
Are you from Chișinău?
– Yes.

/tc 00:41:44:11 00:41:46:08
Is it interesting?
– Very.

/tc 00:41:46:11 00:41:49:20
What border have you crossed today?
– We came through Dubăsari.

/tc 00:41:49:23 00:41:53:16
Did you jump right in our direction?
– To Lenin?

/tc 00:41:53:19 00:41:56:14
Yes, we came to Lenin with Kolja.

/tc 00:41:56:17 00:42:00:20
Who is Kolja? This is Kolja, right?
– Yes.

/tc 00:42:00:23 00:42:02:23
This is Kolja.

/tc 00:42:03:02 00:42:06:05
Kolja, what did you want to show them?
– Me?

/tc 00:42:06:08 00:42:09:01
Yes, where have you been?
– To Lenin, I live here.

/tc 00:42:09:04 00:42:16:05
But did you go to your house? Or have you
been shooting again?
– No, to Oksana’s.

/tc 00:42:16:11 00:42:18:11
– Natasha.

/tc 00:42:18:14 00:42:20:01
– Oksana.

/tc 00:42:20:04 00:42:22:08
Who’s she?
– And the grandmother.

/tc 00:42:22:11 00:42:28:00
There’s an old woman and an old man.
We wanted to talk to them.

/tc 00:42:28:03 00:42:29:23
Are they Kolja’s grandparents?
– No.

/tc 00:42:30:02 00:42:35:03
What did you want to talk about?
– Nothing special.

/tc 00:42:35:06 00:42:39:15
Considering that Moldova has almost
entered the European Union.

/tc 00:42:39:18 00:42:42:20
It is easier to cross the border, no documents
are needed, nor the registration, as before.

/tc 00:42:42:23 00:42:47:08
No, only the registration.
– And how many Moldovans do you see out there?

/tc 00:42:47:11 00:42:50:21
That I don’t know. I just know that
they have biometric passports.

/tc 00:42:51:00 00:42:52:22
Do you have a biometric passport?
– You don’t need one.

/tc 00:42:53:01 00:42:56:17
They arrive at any time, they rent an
apartment and live there as…

/tc 00:42:56:20 00:43:01:17
I’m not sure, if it’s for a long term stay
I guess you must register.

/tc 00:43:01:20 00:43:06:10
Are these people here for a long term?
– No, they stay until the 4th of February.

/tc 00:43:06:14 00:43:13:12
Isn’t that a long term stay?
– A long term stay is more than three months.

/tc 00:43:13:15 00:43:15:19
Now they’re here as tourists.

/tc 00:43:15:22 00:43:20:20
Have you filmed anything today in Rîbnița?
– In Rîbnița today… let’s see.

/tc 00:43:20:23 00:43:25:03
Yes, near the hotel…
We filmed him leaving.

/tc 00:43:25:06 00:43:27:14
Who, Kolja?
– Yes, leaving the hotel.

/tc 00:43:27:17 00:43:31:06
Is Kolja the protagonist?
– Yes…

/tc 00:43:33:13 00:43:37:04
Kolja, what do you do in Rîbnița?
– I work.

/tc 00:43:37:07 00:43:41:05
– In the Russian Regiment.

/tc 00:43:41:08 00:43:44:05
Do you work or serve in the Russian Regiment?
– I work as a civilian.

/tc 00:43:44:08 00:43:46:18
As a civilian?
– Yes.

/tc 00:43:48:10 00:43:51:13
In the heavy lifting work?
– What?

/tc 00:43:51:16 00:43:53:16
In the heavy lifting work?
– No, no.

/tc 00:43:53:19 00:43:56:10
– Surveillance.

/tc 00:43:56:18 00:43:59:00
I can’t hear you.
– Surveillance.

/tc 00:43:59:03 00:44:02:14
So you’re a guard?
-Yes, yes.

/tc 00:44:04:12 00:44:06:05

/tc 00:44:08:16 00:44:10:20
That cell phone doesn’t have signal.

/tc 00:44:10:23 00:44:15:09
She has brought you presents.
– You should’ve called before.

/tc 00:44:15:12 00:44:19:15
You should’ve called before.
Now we’ll have to escort you to Tiraspol.

/tc 00:44:19:18 00:44:21:18
– With whom?

/tc 00:44:21:21 00:44:23:18

/tc 00:44:25:20 00:44:29:11
I’m going to be punished.
– Seriously?

/tc 00:44:34:00 00:44:36:19
Why are you going to be punished?

/tc 00:44:38:03 00:44:39:14
Yes, yes.

/tc 00:44:39:17 00:44:45:05
The two people with the cameras
should go by jeep.

/tc 00:44:45:08 00:44:51:22
Me and Vitali Yurievich will go by van,
to divide ourselves.

/tc 00:44:53:20 00:44:58:13
You should’ve called yesterday,
warning that you would arrive today.

/tc 00:44:58:16 00:45:02:09
Then I would have met you…

/tc 00:45:07:17 00:45:11:19
Now it’ll be difficult.

/tc 00:45:19:22 00:45:25:22
Have you planned to return to
Moldova after this trip?

/tc 00:45:26:01 00:45:29:21
Yes, because we didn’t register for long.
– Did you enter for a day?

/tc 00:45:30:00 00:45:33:04
For about six/eight hours.
– Yes…

/tc 00:45:33:07 00:45:36:16
Is the authorization for less than a day?
– Yes, yes.

/tc 00:45:37:15 00:45:40:21
Did everyone register when
you crossed the border? – Yes.

/tc 00:45:41:00 00:45:44:01
Do you all have the immigration cards?
They must be in your passports.

/tc 00:45:44:04 00:45:45:17
They didn’t give us that.
– They didn’t?

/tc 00:45:45:20 00:45:49:17
They only returned us the passports
with our visas. – Visa.

/tc 00:45:49:20 00:45:52:20
All clear. Do you have a visa
for the Transnistrian territory?

/tc 00:45:52:23 00:45:55:15
– When does it expire?

/tc 00:45:55:18 00:45:59:09
Yes, it is valid until February.
– Hmm…

/tc 00:46:00:02 00:46:02:02
For a month.

/tc 00:46:04:16 00:46:07:04
Kolja, when should you go back to work?
– Tomorrow.

/tc 00:46:07:07 00:46:08:22
As a guard?
– Yes.

/tc 00:46:09:01 00:46:13:07
You are a Russian citizen, correct?
– I have their passport.

/tc 00:46:13:10 00:46:18:08
If you have the passport you are a Russian
citizen. Why are you so uncertain?
– Well… Yes…

/tc 00:46:18:11 00:46:20:21
You have the passport and you don’t
know which country you belong to?

/tc 00:46:21:00 00:46:24:06
Nikolai Nikolaevich, maybe it’s better
not to waste time?

/tc 00:46:24:09 00:46:26:15
Should Romanich write it or will it take long?
– We don’t need to.

/tc 00:46:26:18 00:46:33:13
The situation has changed a bit and
now you’ll have to be escorted to Tiraspol.

/tc 00:46:34:12 00:46:36:03
– It’s on your way out.

/tc 00:46:36:06 00:46:41:13
We need to talk to you in more detail.
There is no need to stay here in the open field.

/tc 00:46:42:02 00:46:46:21
Let’s go. In half an hour we’ll be in Tiraspol.

Salomé Lamas was born in 1987, in Lisbon. She studied cinema in Lisbon and Prague, visual arts in Amsterdam and is a Ph.D candidate in Contemporary Art Studies in Coimbra. Her work has been screened both in art venues and film festivals such as Berlinale – Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, 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, 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, TBA 21 Foundation, Mostra de São Paulo, CAC – Contemporary Art Center Vilnius, MALBA, SESC São Paulo, La Biennale di Venezia Architettura, among others. Lamas was granted several fellowships such as The Gardner Film Study Center Fellowship – Harvard University, The Rockefeller Foundation – Bellagio Center, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Sundance, Bogliasco Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD.