Frozen Conflict

Director: Steffi Wurster / 60 min. / 2018 / Russian, Romanian, English, German (ST: English, German) / Germany

Three soldiers are standing guard at the riverbank. Not a particularly dramatic situation – more a sort of Waiting for Godot. Starting from the trilateral post, the film sets out in search of the „conflict“ between Moldova and Transnistria.

Cinematography: Oliver Indra, Alexander Tyzh, Eugen Schlegel, Steffi Wurster
Editing: Steffi Wurster

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A trilateral border post in the buffer zone between Transnistria and the Republic of Moldova. Three soldiers keep watch on the banks of the river. Beginning with a depiction of this microcosm, the film zooms out to become a detailed description of the state of affairs on one strangest borders in Europe. There is an atmosphere of paralysis and stagnation. With a multi-perspective chorus, FROZEN CONFLICT (Steffi Wurster, G 2018) explores the competing interests of national elites, Russia’s ambiguous role and the impact on the locals‘ living conditions, delivering a picture of a region held hostage to larger geopolitical interests. One wonders who the enemy is. Evoking the absurdity of “Waiting for Godot”, the film exposes thought patterns dating back to the east-west conflict that (should) have run their course.

Documentary, 60 min, 2018, Germany

Original languages in the film: Russian, Romanian, English, German
Subtitles: English, German
16:9, colour, sound 5.1 or stereo

Directed by: Steffi Wurster
Camera: Oliver Indra, Steffi Wurster, Alexander Tyzh, Eugen Schlegel
Editing: Steffi Wurster
Dramaturgy: Janina Herhoffer
Project dramaturgy: Kyra Scheurer
Line Producer: Andrey Smolensky
Sound Mix: Jochen Jezussek
Color Correction: Jakob Wehrmann
Postproduction: Edelbytes postproduction

Funded by:
Stiftung Kunstfonds
Robert Bosch Stiftung
Berliner Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa
Deutsch-Moldauisches Forum

Steffi Wurster, born in 1971 in Ludwigshafen / Rhine, is filmmaker and stage designer, lives in Berlin. Her documentary films focus on places that are captured by the camera and questioned about political-cultural inscriptions. From 2009 to 2013 she documented the new modeling of the Olympic bay in Sochi (Constructing Sochi, 73 min, Brot und Spiele, 45min, WDR). In the documentary film project on the Transnistrian Conflict (Frozen Conflict, 60 min), she once again looks at a territory that oscillates between East and West and is prone to be taken hostage by geopolitical manoeuvring. Her work has been shown at festivals, conferences and exhibitions.

Scholarships and awards
2019 Gerd Ruge Stipendium, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
2019 Research Fellowship Fine Art, Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa
2019 Nomination 1. Rhineland-Palatinate Award for „Frozen Conflict“, Arc Film Festival, Mainz
2017 PerSo Short Award for „A well-guarded conflict”
2016 Project grant, Stiftung Kunstfonds
2015 „Grenzgänger“ scholarship, Robert Bosch Stiftung
2015 Scholarship Film/Video, Senat Berlin
2010-2013 Project support Goethe-Institut Moscow
2010 Scholarship Film/Video, Senat Berlin
2008 Balmoral scholarship
2005 Project support Fonds Darstellende Künste
1997 Scholarship from the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

2018 Frozen Conflict, 60 min. documentary
2017 Ein gut bewachter Konflikt, 23 min. documentary
2014 Constructing Sochi, 73 min. documentary (45 min cut: Brot und Spiele, WDR)

Thinking about the conflict in the Ukraine, I read about a trilateral peace mission at the Dniester river. This awakened my curiosity: All conflicting parties physically under one roof. To get an idea of such a divided region, I decided to take a closer look at the Republic of Moldova and its breakaway republic Transnistria, where the military confrontation dates back to 1992.

Watching the procedures at the trilateral post no.6 at the idyllic river shore, the Transnistrian conflict didn`t seem very real to me. Both soldiers and residents understood each other well. Why then this military post? I wasn`t allowed to film the Russian tank next to the post. In order to fill these “blind spots”, I built a scenic model of the post. The more I learned about the conflict, the more I felt the urge to expand this cardboard world to the political realm. How real, how simulated is this “conflict” and its never–ending peace finding process, which has become an industry in itself?

The Transnistrian politician I interviewed, speaks of the “real picture” he wants to convey. However, everybody in this conflict presents their version of the conflict as the truth. “Frozen Conflict” is not only a reflection on a peace mission but on the production of images and the subjective perspective of every narrative. It wants to raise awareness for perceptions and preconceptions concerning „East“ and „West“. And more fundamentally perhaps, for our questionable habit to create zones, whether on maps or in our heads.

ASTRA Film Festival, Kasseler Dokfest, ARTDOCFEST, MOLDOX Filmfestival, nonfiktionale, Ghent Viewpoint Documentary Film Festival, Cronograf Festival, Moldova

weitere Screenings:
arsenal Berlin; ZOiS Berlin; Eastern Platform – Tartu Seminar, University of Tartu, Estland; Chatham House, London; ESRC Festival of Social Science, Birmingham; ASN European Conference: Nationalism in Times of Uncertainty, Graz/Austria

Nomination 1. Rhineland-Palatinate Award for „Frozen Conflict“, Arc Film Festival, Mainz