A fascinating mini-documentary from director Teresa Rodriguez, this film explores the struggles of teachers in Romanian language schools in Transnistria, a small breakaway republic situated between Moldova and Ukraine that is not officially recognised as its own nation. Schools face threats and coercion from the police as the government wishes for children to be taught only in the Russian language.
It’s a very interesting look into the fight to keep alive what many Romanian speakers in the region fear may be a dying language. It quickly becomes clear that this is, above all, a human rights issue; at one point the struggle is described as “linguistic cleansing.” As we hear shocking tales of Romanian schools being literally under siege by police, it is difficult to disagree.
The meat of the documentary consists of interviews with various people involved in the issue including headteachers, a former student and a human rights lawyer. These interviews are all engaging, with each of the subjects giving us a perspective on the Romanian language and its place in Transnistria’s schools. In particular, headmistress Eleanora Cercavschi – who has won awards and was detained by the KGB for a week for her work – is a compelling and even inspirational figure.
This is a confident and well-made documentary that shines a light on a perhaps obscure topic. A quote form Cercavschi during her interview gets to the humanity at the heart of the matter, “I don’t like the word ‘fighter’ I would like us to live not to fight.”
'Limba Noastră cea Română: The Right to Teach in Romanian in Soviet Transnistria' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2019.