Mamaliga Blues

Directed by Cassio Tolpolar
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MAMALIGA BLUES has been screened at the Doc Shop in Canada,  the South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles,  the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Utah,  the Breman Museum in Atlanta,  the Gramado Latin Film Festival , Midrash Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,  the Miami Jewish Film Festival and at  Fordham University in New York. Screenings in Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles, North Carolina and in other Brazilian cities are being arranged.

2008, the Tolpolars went from Brazil to Moldova (former Bessarabia ) to search for their Jewish roots. Their ancestors moved to Brazil in 1931, that’s how they survived World War II. During the trip a documentary was shot, narrating the search for family traces, the history of Bessarabian Jews, and the uniqueness of this little known and fascinating country.Having the camera as the traveling eye, everything is seen through its lens.

The Tolpolars walk through the capital Chisinau, Edinitz, Orhei and many other cities and villages, experiencing what Moldova is, its variety of ethnicities, and the few Jews who still live there. This Jewish population is not renewing itself, it is not getting any younger, and its memories are dying. It belongs to a past that is slowly vanishing. Monuments, buildings, and landmarks of the once vibrating Jewish community are in decay.

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Former Soviet Republic and independent since 1991, Moldova is a country in construction; in search of identity – it is a country without being a nation. Moldovans are divided between the ones who miss the old days of Russian communism and those who dream of progress and identify with Romania . Ironically, the Tolpolars traveled to look for the traces of their people in a country with troubled memories of its own history and uncertain of its past. Mamaliga is a staple food in Moldova . Going back to their roots meant something like Mamaliga: something basic, warm and strangely familiar.


Cassio Tolpolar was born and raised in the south of Brazil and worked for seven years as an Assistant Director on various documentaries, short films, TV shows and commercials. Cassio’s debut as a Director and Writer, the short Venus, was screened in a number of film festivals around the world and won several awards, leading him to direct for television and, ultimately, to move to the USA and complete the MFA in Film at the San Francisco Art Institute. He has been affiliated with film institutions such as Sundance (Sundance/NHK Award and the Film Festival), Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Upon his arrival in the US, he worked in a number of experimental short films, TV shows and documentaries. Cassio currently lives in Los Angeles, where he is developing a feature film project and editing the documentary about his Jewish family roots in Moldova, Mamaliga Blues.

Shawn Harris – Motion Graphics Artist: Shawn Harris is a motion graphics artist living and working in Los Angeles, California.  Ten + years ago Shawn began his career as an online editor and quickly went on to design and animate major network packaging for the entertainment industry. His role as a designer and 3D artist at various studios throughout Los Angeles has allowed him the opportunity to collaborate and lead in various broadcasts, commercial and experimental projects for such clients as HBO, MTV, NBC, ABC, VHI, Nike, DirecTV, Redbull and HP.

Christopher Gray – Online Editing / Color Correction: Christopher Gray is a prolific editor in the post-production field, working in off-line and on-line editing, color correction, graphics and titling for the last 25 years. He has done on-line editing and color correction for many documentary features including Sundance winner Shakespeare Behind Bars and Oscar nominees, Fighting for Life and Recycled Lives. He helms a post-production house in Los Angeles.