Osservatorio has been working since 2009 in collaboration with Kineofilm, a production company in Trieste, on a documentary project on the story of the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and his journey to the Caucasus in 1930 with his wife, Nadežda. It has not been possible, up to now, to obtain the resources necessary for completing the project. In order to continue our fund raising efforts, we have decided to share a selection of the material so far produced with our readers and the public: the subject, script , director's notes and a first trailer made with a contribution from the Fondo di Produzione sull'Audiovisivo of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region.

Two exceptional Italian artists took part in this activity: Massimo Zamboni and Nada Malanima, who lent their voice and music for the trailer and who will take part in the documentary when it enters the production stage.

The film script presented here appears in a multimedia format, accompanied by photos and video notes collected during the preparation work.

Title: Journey to Armenia

Script, Direction: Andrea Oskari Rossini

In collaboration with: Giorgio Comai

Narration: Nada Malanima

Original Music: Massimo Zamboni

Production: Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso; Kineofilm

For information and contributions to the project “Journey to Armenia”: segreteria@balcanicaucaso.org

The photographs and video accompanying the presentation were taken by Giorgio Comai, except for the following: Ararat seen from Yerevan (Paolo Martino), Candles in the Monastery at Tatev (arnofoto/flickr ), Road to Tatev (worldbank/flickr ), Zorats Karer (Rita Willaert/flickr ), Cathedral at Ghazanchetsots (Marco Fieber/flickr ), Shushi/Shusha mosque (Andrea Rossini), (Marco Fieber/flickr ).

Osip Mandelstam, considered by Nobel prize winner Joseph Brodsky “the greatest Russian poet of the twentieth century”, was born in Warsaw in 1891 into a Jewish family. After a childhood and adolescence in Saint Petersburg, he completed his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Heidelberg. He was one of the founders of the avant-garde literary movement of acmeism which Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev also belonged to.

In his lifetime Mandelstam published several collections of poetry, prose, memoirs and literary essays. Fascinated by Italy, he chose Dante to expose his own poetics, dedicating his famous Conversation to the Tuscan poet.

In 1933 he wrote the Stalin Epigram, a poem strongly critical of the dictator and the communist regime. The poem led to his arrest, deportation and sentencing to hard labour in a Siberian gulag where he died, probably towards the end of 1938.

Following the sentence by the soviet authorities, his work disappeared from public circulation. His wife Nadezhda Mandelstam (Saratov 1899 – Moscow 1980), who escaped arrest, managed to conceal numerous texts and, not trusting paper, preserved most of Osip's poems by memorising them.

To describe her own ordeal, Nadezhda published two memoirs in the 70s (Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned), which give one of the clearest descriptions of the mechanisms of Stalinist terror. Drawing on her personal experience, the writer explains with the precision of reference to daily life how it was possible to arrest, deport and murder millions of people before the indifference (or complicity) of those who were spared.

The documentary script is based on her writings.