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Salomé Lamas’s video essay Extinction, shot in forbidding monochrome, is an opaque meditation on the self-proclaimed and officially unrecognised independent state of Transnistria, in eastern Moldova, bordering Ukraine.
The title appears to allude to the extinction that Transnistria is fighting against and the film ends with a dedication: “To all the unrecognised and unnoticed territories that lie on the margins of legitimacy: lacking diplomatic recognition or UN membership, inhabiting a world of shifting borders, visionary leaders and forgotten peoples.” A quixotic if naive view of the eternal rightness and benevolence of secessionism: I can’t help visualising the Confederate flag.
The film could be considered a footnote or B-side to Sergei Loznitsa’s recent film Donbass, about the conflict of eastern Ukraine, and Russia’s sinister depredations. We see a man’s uncertainly smiling face as a narrative intones thoughts about Transnistria, and we get long passages of complete darkness while someone, perhaps the film-maker, speaks to customs officials and border guards at various Moldavian checkpoints – the conversation recorded but not filmed. An elegant, well-dressed woman tells this man that, since 1991, 100 nations have given way to 100 mafias: Russian mafias, Caucasian mafias, Asiatic mafias. Interesting.
Perhaps the wholesale equivalence of statehood and gangsterism is the only way to understand the Putin era. Yet the paradox is that Transnistria is sympathetic to the overweening Russian state as the only entity that can protect it from being swallowed up into Moldova. The bullies are the good guys – or are they? Some unresolved, unexamined questions in this curious, but novel piece.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Extinction review – forbidding portrait of a self-proclaimed Soviet country | World cinema