Gehen und Bleiben

Leaving and Staying
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.
by Volker Koepp
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
Germany 2023 German, English 179’ Colour & Black/White World premiere | Documentary Form


  • 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


Director Volker Koepp
Screenplay Barbara Frankenstein
Cinematography Uwe Mann
Editing Christoph Krüger
Sound Design Bernd Biemüller
Sound Stephan Settele
Production Manager Jana Cisar
Producer Volker Koepp

Produced by

Vineta Film

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).

Filmography (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 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 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); 179 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023