Germany / 2023
179 min. / Original version with English subtitles
In Uwe Johnson’s last study in the English town of Sheerness, there was a map of Mecklenburg on the wall – the region of his childhood, to which he never returned after his emigration to the West and could only reconstruct in the literary sense afterwards. Volker Koepp’s film is conceived as a geobiography: he travels with Johnson’s texts to places from the author’s life, finding people and landscapes connected to his work and his person, sometimes closely, sometimes more loosely. Koepp’s and Johnson’s poetic projects intertwine: their landscapes and biographies resist linear progression; history remains stored in them only to reveal itself again and again. For Johnson, when he swims in the Baltic Sea, the dead are present, floating in the Bay of Lübeck after the 1945 sinking of the Cap Arcona. Koepp speaks with a woman who recalls how holidaying in Italy evoked thoughts of those fleeing across the Mediterranean by boat. Johnson’s sorrow at the invasion of Prague by Warsaw Pact troops is mirrored in Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, which affects the filming. When a river flows slowly, it can change direction with even just a little wind and return to its source. (Jan Künemund)
Production Volker Koepp. Production company Vineta Film (Berlin, Germany). Director Volker Koepp. Screenplay Barbara Frankenstein. Cinematography Uwe Mann. Editing Christoph Krüger. Sound design Bernd Biemüller. Sound Stephan Settele. Production manager Jana Cisar. With Stuart Roberts, Judith Zander, Erhard Siewert, Peter Kurth, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Helga Elisabeth Syberberg, Aukje Dijkstra, Undine Spillner, Fritz Rost, Heinz Lehmbäcker, Hanna Lehmbäcker, Dietrich Sagert, Kristian Wegscheider, Christian Höser, Thomas Irmer, Uta Löber, Erdmut Wizisla, Karin Bosinski, Hartmut Bosinski.
Volker Koepp, born in Stettin (today Szczecin) Poland in 1944. After first training as a machine fitter, he studied first at the Technical University in Dresden and subsequently at the Deutsche Hochschule für Filmkunst in Babelsberg. From 1970 to 1990, he was employed as a director at the DEFA Studio for Documentary Films. Since then, he has worked as an independent director, author and producer. Volker Koepp has been a frequent guest of the Berlinale Forum, most recently with LANDSTÜCK (2016).
Films (selection): 1971: Schuldner (11 min.). 1972: Grüße aus Sarmatien (16 min.). 1974: Slatan Dudow (33 min.). 1975: Mädchen in Wittstock (22 min.). 1976: Das weite Feld (34 min.). 1978: Wittstock III (32 min.). 1981: Leben und Weben (Wittsock IV) (29 min.). 1984: Leben in Wittstock (86 min., Berlinale Forum). 1985: Afghanistan 1362 Erinnerung an eine Reise (60 min.). 1986: Die F 96 (135 min.). 1989: Märkische Ziegel (32 min.), Arkona-Rhetra-Vineta (122 min.). 1990: Märkische Heide, Märkischer Sand (58 min.). 1991: Märkische Gesellschaft mbH (74 min.). 1992: Neues in Wittstock (96 min.). 1993: Die Wismut (111 min.). 1995: Kalte Heimat (157 min., Berlinale Forum). 1997: Wittstock, Wittstock (118 min., berlinale Forum). 1999: Herr Zwilling und Frau Zuckermann (126 min., Berlinale Forum). 2001: Kurische Nehrung (86 min., Berlinale Forum). 2002: Uckermark (105 min., Berlinale Forum). 2004: Dieses Jahr in Czernowitz (134 min., Berlinale Forum). 2005: Pommerland (88 min.). 2007: Söhne (104 min.). 2008: Memelland (88 min.). 2009: Berlin–Stettin (110 min.). 2011: Livland (89 min.). 2013: In Sarmatien (122 min.). 2016: Landstück (122 min., Berlinale Forum). 2018: Seestück (135 min.). 2023: Gehen und Bleiben / Leaving and Staying.