by Veit Helmer
“Whatever falls from heaven, you may keep.” So goes the unwritten law of the Kazakh steppes. A law avidly adhered to by the inhabitants of a small village, who collect the space debris that falls downrange from the nearby Baikonur space station. The last two youthful members of the village are the radio operator Iskander, known as Gagarin, and the spirited Nazira. While Nazira finds it increasing difficult to conceal her love for Iskander by means of her unconventional behaviour, Iskander is evidently not only crazy about Baikonur and the vastness of outer space, but also deeply smitten with the beautiful French astronaut Julie Mahé, whose journey to the stars he wistfully follows on television. When Julie literally “falls from heaven” in a small space capsule, it’s Iskander who finds her unconscious. Since Julie can no longer remember anything, Iskander is able to pretend that they are engaged to be married, turning the ancient law of the steppes to his own advantage. But even the most romantic lie cannot remain undiscovered forever. And soon “Gagarin” no longer knows where he really belongs nor, more importantly, to whom.