By Mikhail Bulgakov
I filmed three projects in Russia, and I found the people to be a mystical bunch. They discuss their writers and the arts in a way that is very full-blooded. I love this novel because it so captures the essence of what it is to be Russian. One of my favorite places in the world is the long, winding staircase leading to Bulgakov's apartment in Moscow; every inch of it is covered in graffiti. The Soviet authorities censored his book and kept painting over the graffiti as a way of suppressing people's memory of him, but each time, even though it was risky, Russians would write more. Bulgakov's book and that staircase are spectacular examples of how the heart of a people is separate from the authorities who may attempt to rule it.