OCA PEOPLE: MICHAEL DANIEL SAGATIS

Michael Daniel is a British independent researcher, composer and filmmaker with Baltic & Slavic roots. He created an intergenerational memory project “Józefa’s Letters” that’s been widely exhibited throughout the Eurasian space. In 2019, he made and co-scored the documentary short film “Józefa’s Letters” which has received 9 official film festival selections. Visit: https://vimeo.com/michaelsagatis

OCA: Tell us about yourself and your activity / work
MDS: I am an independent researcher, filmmaker and composer born and raised in the UK with Slavic and Celtic roots. I have recently finished making a short documentary film about intergenerational memory, Józefa’s Letters, which has received 9 film festival selections including for best original score. As a communicator and presenter, I’ve travelled extensively to present a series of exhibitions and talks in museums and cultural centres in the Eurasian space.

OCA: What is “Eurasianism” for you?
MDS: I see ‘Eurasianism’ as describing the exciting formation of a modern identity based on the sharing of rich, historic cultures among diverse ethnicities. As the result of intense political change that’s barely one generation old, Eurasianism positively embraces the vibrant intensity of globalised possibility, whilst respectfully acknowledging the sensitive legacies of a turbulent past. As a burgeoning artistic movement, Eurasianism is creating a mosaic of intellectuals and artists that current generations can be inspired by to learn how the past, connected to the present, is shaping the future.

OCA: Who are your favorite artists?
MDS: I am fascinated by how the artist Erbol Meldibekov continuously finds inspired ways using mediums of sculpture, photography and mixed media to powerfully depict the dialogue between past and present through social and political realities. The pianist, Khatia Buniatishvili exemplifies the fusion that produces prodigious musical skill with an enthralling visual performance. When reading to relax, the writings of Khalil Gilbran remain a comforting source of profound wisdom and deep philosophy expressed through wonderful sketches of word imagery. As a self-taught musician, I learned from the Beatles, so I am a certified Beatlemaniac!

OCA: Have you taken part in the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London)?
MDS: During this period of quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I have enjoyed taking part in the Guilds online meetings where we have shared opinions and creative responses to topics from the life of Shakespeare to the inspiration of Nature. These events have displayed the spirit of the Guild to remain connected in these challenging times.

OCA: What does the Eurasian Creative Guild mean to you, and how did it affect your
Creativity / activity?
MDS: I joined the Guild to broaden my understanding of the Eurasian creative space by exploring opportunities that could contribute to existing creative projects and co-operate with new ones. As a dynamic multi-national forum, the ECG connects members from varied backgrounds who are positively motivated to participate in cultural exchange and the promotion of personal and professional development. Through the activities of the Guild, I have discovered inspiring projects, fascinating books and connected with people from around the Eurasian space.

OCA: Do you have any personal project that you would like to talk about?
MDS: Since 2017, I have travelled and lived in Eurasia, presenting a multimedia auto-ethnographic project, Józefa’s Letters, which has been widely reported by local and national press in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Belarus.

I have now returned to the UK with impressions and experiences that underline the success resulting from the joint efforts of many countries who have helped recover the hitherto lost identity of an ancestor and allowed for the better understanding of the Eurasian and European history that connects the fates between generations of family members.

I’m currently preparing a pitch for the Baltic Sea Co-Financing forum of international documentary projects that will powerfully tell the full story as a feature documentary. I’m also writing a transformational non-fiction title where historical narratives are introduced by a series of real and related characters, who each have a striking story that connects how the creation of ancestral trauma, its echo and subsequent healing, is accomplished by descendants determined to understand the events that have shaped and defined their family history.

OCA: What projects have you participated in and in which do you plan to participate?
MDS: Last year I was honoured to be part of a delegation from the Moscow School of Civic Education that attended the ‘Sapere Aude’ forum on Freedom of Speech, Media and Society held at Oxford University. As part of the celebrations marking 150-years since the founding of the city of Aktobe, I participated in the TEDx Aktobe event alongside inspirational local Kazakh artists, personalities and entrepreneurs. In October, I was invited to present my research and collection of historical artefacts at a conference held at Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan City. In March this year, I was invited to Minsk to attend the premiere of my film following its selection at the Minsk ‘Unfiltered’ Film Festival.

I have proudly supported the Guild’s crowd-funded project to change the established human worldview of Autism by creating a graphic novel based on the children’s book, Elish and the Wicker Tales by Kamran Slayer. I wish this important project every success!

I am currently submitting a film to the Guild’s Eurasian Film Festival and I have also entered the Top 25 Eurasian Artworks 2020 photography competition.

OCA: What would you wish the members of the Guild, just starting their career?
MDS: Read, research and reach out to those who have expertise you can learn from and experience that may also be able to help your projects develop. Travel as much as possible to let real experiences colour your impressions, challenge your assumptions and inspire your imagination!