How Minerva student Marina won 50,000 euros

Marina Sulima sent the film on which she graduated to several authorities. The Netherlands Film Fund rewarded the effort with 50,000 euros. In De Biotoop the Moldovan breeds for new ideas.

‘My grandfather is ready for it. He says my next film should also be about Moldova. I think I agree, but I’m not quite sure yet. Things often take a different course from what you expect. Those who are open to unexpected experience beautiful things.’
The Dutch Film Fund gave Marina Sulima (24) fifty thousand euros to spend on a new film. The money is a reward for Parcelpaedia, the film on which the Moldovan student graduated from Academy Minerva last summer.

Parcelpaedia depicts a reality that verges on almost unparalleled fantasy

‘I sent the film to multiple agencies. You never know. I’m not afraid of another rejection. I’m used to that. The Film Fund picked me out, all right, that’s just luck.’

In De Biotoop in Haren, Marina shares a studio with three fellow students. It is spacious, the coffee is ready in no time and the light is excellent, even on the shortest day of 2020. She has had a refreshing bike ride. From her room in the Oude RKZ to De Biotoop only takes fifteen minutes to paddle.
Parcelpaedia is a short film in which a reality is depicted that verges on almost unparalleled fantasy. The maker herself calls it a speculative documentary. It is partly made up, but it could have been true and the rest is just reality.

The route from Moldova to Italy is not easy, but it is often used

Badantes do exist, for example, people who live with elderly Italians to care for and nurse them.
‘My mother worked as a badante in Modena’, Marina says. ‘It is a way for Moldovans to make a living. In Moldova there are hardly any jobs. The route to Italy is not easy, but it is often used. My mother went by truck. My father followed later. I grew up with my grandparents in Ghindesti. Later, when my sister Irina turned eighteen, she became my guardian.’

Irina now lives in the United States, father and mother Sulima have managed to build a life in Italy and Grandpa Fiodor and his wife stayed where they were, in Ghindesti, their village in the north-east of the country that is wedged between Ukraine and Romania. The Sulimas are a Moldovan family like so many, living far away from each other, the older generation in the homeland and the children all over the world.

The story should have started in Italy, but things went differently

‘Young people are leaving the country for work. Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Italy, wherever. Almost all young people are leaving. In Moldova we say: “Would the last youngster to leave be so kind as to turn off the lights?” It’s just a joke, of course. But it’s also sad, because leaving the country is an inevitability, an escape.’

All those Moldovans who left their country and manage to make money, send parcels to those who stayed behind. These packages do not only contain food, but also the heart and soul of Moldovan families. ‘The parcels maintain the family organism’, Marina says. That’s what Parcelpaedia is depicting, with Grandpa Fiodor as the Parcel Doctor who examines the parcels at home in the Moldovan countryside.

‘My original idea was to track the entire journey of the packages. So the story should have started in Italy. But things went differently. When I had finished shooting in Moldova, Italy was badly hit by the corona pandemic. I couldn’t go there and was dependent on the footage shot in Moldova.’

By the way, Marina was not an experienced filmmaker, she studied Animation & Illustration at Minerva.
‘Nwah, I knew something about it and some student friends provided me with some good advice. Really important also were the teachers who encouraged me to actually take up the challenge. That’s the great thing about studying at Minerva: there are no limits, there is so much room for experimentation. Do it, try it, that’s the mentality at school.’

I have a two-year time limit for making a new film, that’s not pressure, that’s exciting

In Moldova Marina found a cameraman and a sound engineer who were happy to help her. ‘I gave them an old-fashioned analogue camera as a thank-you. That was it, I had nothing more to give. Thanks to them I was able to fully focus on directing. I was lucky that my grandfather turned out to be a natural.’
The 50,000 euros that Marina received from the Film Fund has to be used to make a new film.
‘I have a two-year time limit. No, that is not pressure. On the contrary, this is the most exciting part. Plenty of ideas, now I get the chance to develop them.’

People know little about Moldova. ‘The film could be about fruit growing. Plums, pears, apples. The black soil is so fertile, the grapes so sweet. Wine! That’s also a nice theme. In Moldova, old mines have been transformed into wine cellar complexes. Huge aisles full of bottles, perfect conditions for wine storage. People like Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel keep their wine collections over there.

Marina Sulima’s new film could also be about homesickness and hope

‘Old people and their businesses, that’s worth a movie too. People sell their things because the pensions are not very good. They spread sheets on the sidewalk to sell tangible memories of the Soviet era and other stuff, like books that the library doesn’t have.’

Marina Sulima’s new film could also be about homesickness and hope. Hope that lives among Moldovans who went to the balllot box in a foreign capital last November to elect a new president.
‘Basically it is easy, we young Moldovans abroad choose the candidate who is not involved in corruption. The candidate who is in favour of the European Union. Someone who will change things, so that we can go back.’
Marina herself cast her vote in The Hague. ‘We stood lined up in a long, long row. Hundreds of Moldovans far from home, together. It was beautiful. Such a pity I didn’t bring my camera with me.’

Last November, pro-European Maia Sandu won the presidential elections in Moldova. The former Prime Minister and Minister of Education beat incumbent President Igor Dodon by a significant margin (57 to 43 percent).