The documentary begins in Transnistria, where the director’s great grandmother died in the “Death March”, promoted by Romanian nazis during the Holocaust. Transnistria is “a country that doesn’t exist”: it considers itself independent, but almost no foreign government acknowledges its sovereignty. The population misses the former Soviet Union. And for the international community, it belongs to the Republic of Moldova, the former Bessarabia, where the director’s paternal family came from. Bessarabia, for its part, has once belonged to Romania – and therefore the director can apply for Romanian citizenship.
In this imbroglio of nationalities and ancestries, a question is asked: what, after all, ties one to a country? To a part of the world? The director’s grandparents – who considered themselves Russian Jews, by the way – exchanged letters – the “the letters from Bessarabia” (which had Romanian stamps at that point) – and, departing from that concrete connection with that very peculiar part of Eastern Europe, the director goes on a journey to get to know the region and to understand how she can, herself, establish her own ties with it.
Romania is a multicultural land, full of “nations” within a nation. Descending from one of those minorities, she finds out that “nationality” and “citizenship” are different things in the country and meets members of a number of Romanian communities – Roma, Saxons, Magyars, Armenians.
She finally crosses the border and arrives at Moldova, where not much of the former Jewish community is left. Yiddish, the language of her grandparents, is barely spoken – but still sung – and contemporary issues have emerged: Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, squeezed between huge powers – the European Union and Russia. Moreover, there is the Transnistria issue – the region being a Russian claw in the tiny country.
Throughout this journey, the most amazing characters and the most interesting cultural features reveal themselves, which allows the whole region and its unique history to make sense – to the director and viewers alike. There is pride (and prejudice). There are thriving human beings, who despite so many political and economic obstacles (of the past and present times), and despite living in the periphery of the Western civilization, are managing to dream and go ahead. There are the most beautiful landscapes. And, yes, it is not difficult, at the end of the day, to feel related and connected to that corner of our small planet.