In my graduating year at The National Film & Television School we were given the freedom to make a film about almost any subject we wanted, and I knew that I had to take this opportunity to visit Russia. As a child I spent a lot of time with my Russian grandmother, a brilliant story-teller who immersed me in Russian language, culture and food. Going to Russia for the first time in 1999 felt like a return.
I set out to make a film about the National Library in St. Petersburg, a place first described to me by my uncle who had visited as a newspaper correspondent for the Times in the 1960’s.
It was the idea of sanctuary and spiritual calm in the midst of the chaos that drew me to this subject, and I loved the passion and emotion of the Russians, their directness and their inherent interest in high ideals and philosophy.