Sunday, February 1, 2015


Mamaliga Blues toured around a few cities in the US and the screenings were so inspiring that I decided to dedicate a post about them. It was not only because we shared an exhibition date with Nancy Spielberg (yes, HIS sister) or that I was interviewed on Miami local TV that made it all  so unique and special. It was the people in the audience I met between December and January that made the 9 years of producing the documentary worthwhile. The crowd was diverse: students, genealogists, Moldovans, Brazilians, Americans, Colombians, Canadians, Equatorians, film lovers, artists, Jewish and non-Jewish. 

Here are some interesting things learned during the screenings:

- first of all, an unknown fact to me: one of the audience members told me there is a town called Mamaliga in Ukraine, bordering Moldova. What are the odds...?
- I met a Colombian lady with ancestry in Moldova as well. After watching the film, she told me she was the first cousin of one of the people we interviewed and, moreover, said that her grandmother was the first girlfriend of Sioma Tolpolar, my cousin. 
- There was also a Peruvian gentleman who said, after chatting for a while, "you know, I think you are in my genealogical tree"
- In New York, after the film played, one Moldovan lady said her neighbors were Tolpolars and is supposed to get me their contact information
- In the same screening, another Moldovan made an assumption on the reason why my great-grandparents were not buried in their hometown or closer to it. She said that in the 30's, the situation for the Jews was especially difficult and it could be possible that the sinagogues were being disconnected, as well as the Rabbis moving to other more Jewish populated cities. So the burial services were being largely suspended.
- yes, some did cry, but I was surprised with the fact that a non Jewish lady came to me apologizing for what her Moldovan fellows had done to the Jews during World War II.
- And lastly, one man revealed that a boy shown in one of the many archival photos, was actually his father.

So we, Bessarabers, may be a few, but we are very much connected. And the screening room can be a communal space where people share stories and try to find closure. The sense of being around people like you, with the same roots or interests, made me feel a bit hopeful about the future. Knowing about your history and keeping memory alive gives you perspective but also bears responsibility of relaying it to the young/next generation. As long as there are people who understand this, we are not alone - at least for now.