Film journal from the world before the quarantine.

Berlinale Film Festival

The Berlinale is the kind of festival that creeps towards you slowly, suddenly crashing into your calendar as suddenly as a pandemic. It takes place after the Oscars ceremony but before the new season really starts to gear up, sleepily looking back at the past year while at the same time nervously peering into whatever new fad awaits us. It’s stuck between past and future, but also between Germany and the world. …

European survival hinges on achieving social justice in Germany.

Photo: DPA

“Emergency”, from the Latin emergere, indicates a situation in which pre-existing phenomena or problems are brought to light. Some left-wing commentators, often quite unwittingly, have taken this linguistic fact very seriously. The reason why Covid-19 has hit Europe so violently is a series of disastrous economic and political choices, such as major cuts to healthcare, brought upon by decades of regressive policy. Many hope that this crisis will finally speed up the elimination of these structural weaknesses, radically departing from the pre-pandemic consensus.

There is no etymological equivalent to the word…

Art can be a tool to construct a common political front. The real challenge is what to do with that identity.

Lithuanian Pavilion

There’s an old joke in Italy, which goes something like this: “We are a country with 59.999.999 outstanding football coaches, with the exception for the actual trainer”. We tend to judge actions far more leniently than thoughts. Usually, or at least that’s my impression, we’re willing to discount what would otherwise be legitimate criticism, or even just a sound judgment, by underlining that looking at something is far easier than dirtying one’s hand with it. Being “active” at least holds the potential for positive change; being “passive” ultimately leaves one at the mercy of other forces. …

Gregory Carleton’s “Russia: The Story of War” masterfully dissects the fiction of Russia as a country under siege — despite perpetuating its myth.

Sitting on the train connecting Moscow to Minsk, roughly halfway through, travellers will notice a stop called Vyazma. It’s a town of roughly 60.000 inhabitants sprinkled with orthodox churches, a branch of the University of Smolensk and a couple of youth associations. It’s also honoured with the title of “City of Military Glory”, a designation reserved for cities that suffered greatly during the Second World War — or better, Great Patriotic War. And for good reasons: approximately 80.000 people were killed in a nearby concentration camp, and after the war only 716 survivors remained.

Vyazma’s past isn’t unique in this…

“It’s important for Russians to understand that resistance is possible”, says Evgeniya Chirikova

Evgeniya Chirikova (

Evgeniya Chirikova’s days are, for the lack of a better word, normal. She wakes up in the early morning, sends her children to school, and reads the news before starting to work. Her job mainly consists in shaking hands, Skype calls and answering emails. Later, she edits vlogs commenting recent news. In the afternoon, she has tea with her family, while their dog tries to snatch whatever falls from the table. Finally, the parents help the kids with their homework and tending the garden. But this routine doesn’t do justice to Mrs. Chirikova’s life, which is all but unremarkable. Formerly…

How the Russian lobbying network in Italy is growing.

Opening of the 5th Eurasian Forum in Verona (

The Roman city of Verona, situated 100km west of Venice, has very few connections to Russia. In 1822 it hosted the tsarist delegation during the last congress of the Holy Alliance, and today the most prominent link to Eurasia is the so-called “Russian cake”, a pastry and almonds dessert of uncertain etymology.

However, the city also hosts one of many Italo-Russian organizations which have sprung up in the last decade. Since the elections in March 2018, newspapers have focused on the political ties between right-wing parties and Moscow, and most emphasized the ideological affinities between Russia’s reactionary policies and the…

Migrant workers follow a police officer during a raid by Russian immigration authorities at a construction site in Moscow, in 2012 | Karpov Sergei/ITAR-Tass/Landov.

Two years have passed since the refugee wave that took European politics by storm. Since then, much of the continent’s leadership has settled on a strategy aimed at managing the incoming migration flow abroad while trying to contain the mounting pressure at home. …

Paolo Sorrentino’s Loro is a biopic about a character that never existed.

When my parents first met, in 1992, politics was very difficult topic to avoid, especially in Milan. The city had become the epicenter of the biggest political scandal of the century when the unearthing of a minor investigation had led to discovering an immense network of favors and gifts compromising most of the country’s political and economic leadership. You would’ve been hard pressed to find someone whose employer hadn’t been summoned to court. My parents worked for a gargantuan industrial conglomerate, and unsurprisingly their cubicles were regularly raided by the financial police. …

“But A Storm Is Blowing From Paradise” and “Ye Basta Hijos de Puta” and opposed perspectives on war are disarming blows to the idea that people observing conflicts from beyond fences and oceans, policy makers and public alike, may ever understand the cruel obscurity of these struggles.

The ways to cope with trauma are as many as the people suffering from it. One can embrace the injury, accept it as a part of the self, letting the wound heal while learning to live with the cicatrices; another is to try and reject the foreign body, screaming the laceration to the world. But A Storm Is Blowing From Paradise (11 April — 17 June) and Ye Basta Hijos de Puta (28 March — 20 May) incarnate these opposed behaviors. Aptly located in bordering museums in Milan, the expositions center around artists born into two conflict-ridden zones of the…

Political economics will be the greatest challenge to Russia’s ambition to maintain its grip over Syria.

In the last few months much has been written on how the West should contribute to the reconstruction of Syria. While virtually everybody agrees that waiting for a political settlement of the conflict is an unrealistic perspective, most of the analysis have focused on the diplomatic actions undertook by the UN an in particular Russia, which has tried to broker alternative peace settlements in Astana and Sochi. However, a discussion on Moscow’s intentions can’t be complete without accounting for the economic costs related to protecting the regime.

From market economy to feudal lords

Russia has of course amply demonstrated having a vested interest in the survival…

Michelangelo Freyrie

Student of politics and economics, European at large.

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