Notebook

Flying

For years I have admired the films of Volker Koepp chronicling life in the region the ancients called Sarmatia, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The fact that this region is now largely covered by Ukraine give Koepp’s work great relevance. Indeed, I’ve just noticed that his 2013 film In Sarmatien will be re-screened tomorrow in the Akademie der Künste in Berlin at a fundraising event for the Ukraine-Hilfe. The film portrays tensions of a life lived between Russia and Europe. A Moldavian woman recounts how not so long ago her mother tongue, Romanian, for being a Romance language related to Italian, had mandatorily to be written with cyrillic letters. It is chilling, in the light of current events, to hear a young Ukrainian say, nine years ago, that after the hopes raised by the orange revolution, ‘great pressure’ had set in: ‘Everything gets smaller, narrower. There’s straightforward intimidation going on.’ At the end of the film, though, an interviewee maintains: ‘Anyone who carries a sentiment of freedom in the heart, in the soul, can fly.’