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The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia documentary project by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio about the Republic of Moldova. Read more

London, UK Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on August 24, 2014.

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia documentary project by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio about the Republic of Moldova.

London, UK Documentary
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About this project

About

A map of the Republic of Moldova, bordering Ukraine and Romania.
A map of the Republic of Moldova, bordering Ukraine and Romania.

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia documentary work in progress by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio about the Republic of Moldova and its multiple ethnic, religious, social and political identities. It tells about its ordinary citizens and their memories, its transnational communities and their expectations for the future of the nation. It is also an exploration of the Moldovan rural and urban landscapes: a visual blueprint for a personal mapping of the nation.

The term diary represents the development of this project on multiple levels where visual arts and journalism meet. It is a travel journal made up of maps and videos, following the authors’ wanderings from the streets of Balti to the rural towns of Gagauzia and from the border with Romania to the capital Chisinau. It is also a notebook filled with journalistic annotations and interviews, conclusively, a diary containing the memories of several communities united within the borders of Moldova.

From the declaration of independence in 1991 until now, Moldova has been struggling to overcome its economic problems, worsened by unsolved geopolitical issues (a case in point is the frozen conflict in Transnistria) and dramatic loss of part of its population due to the mass migration towards Europe, on one side, and Russia, on the other. Despite this, Moldova has participated in the Eastern Partnership initiative since 2009 and is currently moving towards a possible, although still not certain, association with the European Union.

The Moldovan Diaries is an inquiry into this crucial phase: a look into the relationship between conservative values and a progressive identity. The intricate mosaics of the ethnocultural legacies plays a relevant part in the E.U. issue, as well as the geopolitical forces in neighbouring countries having an interest in influencing this small post-Soviet country.

How will the project look when finished?

We are now going to explain what The Moldovan Diaries will be about and how it will look.

1) Our aim is to create a web documentary platform. Rather than being a long-feature documentary film, it will be a series of video-documentary portraits linked to each other via photography, film and audio content.

2) The web documentary is going to have one main focus: the Moldovan society and its multiple social and ethnic identities. The thread that links all the interviews we have done so far could be summarised in one question: "What does it mean to be a Moldovan citizen today?"

3) Interviewing ordinary citizens has and will allow us to be in the privileged position to observe society: an unexpected break from their daily life is an occasion for our protagonists/citizens to question themselves about their country in front of the eye of a camera. Here are some examples:

4) What makes this project unique is our desire to present these interviews thorough a navigable map of the Republic of Moldova, where spectators/users will be able to travel from one region to another, exploring the country as they like. Each region will have some characters that will speak about their life, their background, their political expectations for the country and, most of all, what it means for them to be a Moldovan citizen.  

5) These chapters will intersect with contents aimed at documenting the architectural heritage of the country, from urban centres to the countryside, from cemeteries to historical memorials. A visual inquiry into the urban and rural landscape of Moldova.

6) We are mapping a nation through individual stories but with rigour. It is a personal journey conducted with journalistic intent, creating an account of life in Moldova in 2014.

7) We have set up a website, that YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT to have a more precise idea of how the final project will appear and the style we are adopting. We have uploaded sections of video interviews we have already edited and photographs of some of the beautiful locations we discovered. Here is the link (OPTIMIZED FOR FIREFOX): http://themoldovandiaries.tumblr.com/

Concept

An old map of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
An old map of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The former Soviet Republic of Moldova has been home for a long time to several ethnolinguistic groups, living harmoniously within the same political boundaries. Moldovans, Ukrainians, Russians, Gagauzians and Roma, amongst others, shaped the destiny of this small and young nation from its independence in 1991 until now.

There are many reasons to focus this documentary research on the multiple identities of the Moldovan society. Firstly, the distinctiveness of each ethnic and social group and their cultural heritage. Secondly, the ties between Moldovan citizens and the vast diaspora of migrants, that have helped to shape challenging ideas on the political future of the nation. Thirdly, two strong regional identities: Gagauzia and its unique traditions on one side, and the breakaway territory of Transnistria on the other, they offer a view on the meaning of separatism and autonomy in these regions. Fourthly, the role of transnational communities influencing the local political debate in relation to the E.U. Issue. 

Last but not least, an inquiry on the multiethnicity of Moldova is a way of exploring the history of this region and an attempt to understand how different groups have filtered their memories according to their ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. 

The documentary research has followed two main directions, constantly intersecting with each other. On one side, interviews with people from many socio-ethnolinguistic backgrounds giving a sample of the diversity of Moldova. On the other, a visual search documenting the reality of the country, with a particular attention dedicated to the architectural heritage, from ordinary buildings to cemeteries and memorials.

An interest filming these key places arises from the belief that documenting places with historical past could greatly help to understand the complex reality of contemporary Moldova. Gathering these images is a way to underline the links between the memories of ordinary citizens from different backgrounds and their shared past.

We have already been to Moldova three times, facing amongst other challenges, the coldest days of the year in January (-22 in Balti!) and the unruly traffic of Chisinau.

Cesare at Leova Jewish Cemetery.
Cesare at Leova Jewish Cemetery.
Paolo doing some sound recording in Leova.
Paolo doing some sound recording in Leova.

We have developed a strong network of friends and collaborators that have helped us to understand Moldova better and on a deeper level.  

Toasting in Chirsova, Gagauzia
Toasting in Chirsova, Gagauzia

We have extensively traveled throughout the country and have spoken with dozens of people: from the Gagauzian National Theatre in Comrat to students at the State University of Balti, from NGO activists in Chisinau to photographers and artists met on the road.

This is why we are eager to return: to finish what we have started, to be on the road again, with recorders and cameras to have a larger picture of Moldova and its multiple identities.

If you want to ask more about this project, please don't hesitate to contact us! 

We are genuinely interested in sharing our ideas and having an enthusiastic discussion about The Moldovan Diaries. Passion is what drives us! 

This is our email: themoldovandiaries@gmail.com

Risks and challenges

If our attempt to raise money is successful, we will be able to pay translators (Romanian and Russian to English) and start talking with web developers and designers about the web documentary platform we want to create. We will also be able to pay for our final filming journey, including accommodation, car rental and flight tickets - our main expenses.

If however the fundraising campaign isn't successful, the whole project will be jeopardised! We have already invested considerable time and money to fulfilling this project and have reached the limit of our resources.
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE THIS PROJECT HAPPEN!

Please consider donating now.

The main challenge of this project is trying to combine tools of different disciplines like journalism, visual art, photography and ethnography amongst others, in a coherent, strong and clear way.
This will allow people to understand more of a country that is largely ignored in the news, from a different, unusual and enriching perspective.

We are very committed and driven by a deep interest for our subject, since we have also developed personal bonds with people in Moldova. We believe that documentary is an attempt to approach reality and what lies behind the surface with new eyes, driven by passion. This can only be reached through a slow, personal approach to our subjects: documentary is an empathic art.

There is another challenge: building a strong narrative about a geopolitical area and its main issues without losing a very personal point of view.
We continue to face these challenges - won't be easily defeated!

Thank you for reading, support us today!

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Funding period

- (36 days)