»Voices on War« – new film on the Ukraine war

[© Sunguk Kim, Unsplash]

»What chance would any kind of honest writer have in a regime that has already made it a crime to call a war a war?« Margaret Atwood’s question in the film »Voices on War« sheds light on the crisis that, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, has also affected cultural workers and especially writers..

What does the war in Ukraine do to authors? What do they have to say to us in the crisis? In the film »Voices on War«, thirty international authors, journalists, and publicists provide poignant statements about the Russian war of annihilation against Ukraine, including Booker Prize winners Margaret Atwood and Damon Galgut, Pulitzer Prize winner Matthieu Aikins, Heinrich Böll Prize winner Eva Menasse, and renowned Syrian writer Khaled Khalifa. The world premiere of the film took place at the 8th international literature festival odesa in Georgian Batumi on October 5, 2022. The film can now be streamed for free on YouTube.

What distinguishes the film, above all, is its diversity of perspectives and thoughts on the war: While Matthieu Aikins from Canada, Amir Hassan Cheheltan from Iran and Khaled Khalifa from Syria are reminded of the Soviet and Russian wars in Afghanistan and Syria, Italian writer Dacia Maraini recognizes similarities between the Italian resistance against fascism and the »courageous« struggle of the Ukrainian people. Odessa-born poet, critic, translator and poetry professor Ilya Kaminsky describes his dismay at the destruction in his native city and the suffering of the local population. Wolf Biermann, Karl Schlögel and Daniel Cohn-Bendit call for solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Ukrainian writer Andrej Kurkow calls for reading of Ukrainian literature. The Czech writer, translator and journalist Radka Denemarková sees in the war against Ukraine the contrast between open society and totalitarianism, between freedom of speech and censorship, and between humanism and economic pragmatism. Instead of comprehending the war as the often-evoked intrusion of the real into life, Austrian writer Kathrin Röggla underscores its »irreality.« Dutch-speaking Belgian author, historian and archaeologist David Van Reybrouck warns that the war will also set the international community back in the fight against climate change, and Turkish journalist Ece Temelkuran fears the danger of normalizing the war in the media. Eva Menasse, Austrian writer and spokesperson for PEN Berlin, understands the war as a profound shock to her generation’s faith in reason and progress.

Idea and concept: Ulrich Schreiber
Camera: Norbert Kron, Andreas Hartmann
Editor: Andreas Hartmann
Funded by: Minister of State for Culture and the Media

With:

Matthieu Aikins, Canada/USA
Sahar Ajdamsani, Iran
Omar Akbar, Germany/Afghanistan
Taqi Akhlaqi, Afghanistan/Germany
Homero Aridjis, Mexico
Margaret Atwood, Canada
Wolf Biermann, Germany
Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Iran
Jennifer Clement, USA/Mexico
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, France/Germany
Radka Denemarková, Czech Republic
Damon Galgut, South Africa
Olivier Guez, France
Jānis Joņevs, Latvia
Ilya Kaminsky, Ukraine/USA
Khaled Khalifa, Syria
Andrej Kurkow, Ukraine
Dacia Maraini, Italy
Eva Menasse, Austria/Germany
Francesca Melandri, Italy
Eva Menasse, Austria/Germany
John Ralston Saul, Canada
Kathrin Röggla, Austria
Karl Schlögel, Germany
Peter Schneider, Germany
Burhan Sönmez, Turkey
Aleš Šteger, Slovenia
Gerhard Steidl, Germany
Ece Temelkuran, Turkey
David Van Reybrouck, Belgium