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23rd Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy

Sergey Dvortsevoy (1962) is a Kazakh director and documentarian of Russian origin. He is ften grouped with the Russian New Wave, which was formed at the turn of the millennium as a result of efforts to reflect the state of Russian society and a range of socio-economic issues through the medium of film.

Dvortsevoy was born in Shymkent, Kazakhstan and prior to studying the art of filmmaking, he graduated from flight school in Ukraine and the Radio Engineering Institute in Novosibirsk. For a while he worked as an airline technician, then was admitted to the Higher Courses for Screenwriters and Directors in Moscow, which kicked off his career as the creator of documentary and fictional short films.

In 2008 he made his debut with the feature-length fiction film Tulpan, who garnered him numerous awards at international film festivals – Best Director at the Tokyo IFF, Discovery of the Year at the European Film Awards, and the East of the West Award at the Karlovy Vary IFF. Tulpan contains strong links to Dvortsevoy’s socially critical documentary films and blends together elements of visual lyricism with a naturalistic effort to capture the real life of Kazakh herdsmen.

The peak of critical naturalism in his work to date is the film Ayka (2018), which highlights the deplorable living conditions of migrants in Russian society, explicitly depicting the postpartum difficulties of women, which earned Samal Eslyamová the award for best actress at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

film database

Ayka
In the dystopian setting of the deserted streets of Moscow, a young Kyrgyz woman, on the run from the hospital where she left her newborn baby, struggles through the endless falling snow. In severe financial distress and with invalid immigration documents, she is ready to take any job that could put a roof over her head; meanwhile, she is constantly bleeding and suffers from severe postpartum pain. Shaky hand-held close-up camerawork follows the misery of a broken woman who, even in the worst existential suffering, is finds faith and love for the child she left behind.
personal program

Ayka

Sergey Dvorcevoy
Kazakhstan, Poland, Germany, Russia / 2018 / 100 min.
section: Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Czech Premiere
Highway
In this film, Dvortsevoy focuses his ethnographic lens on the Kazakh steppe and an eight-member Uyghur circus family traveling, tightly packed, in an old bus. The camera captures their nomadic life from up close during the long journey of thousands of kilometers. We see a woman, a man, and their six children aged from one to sixteen years during preparations for performances in the villages they pass through, even during everyday regular tasks and moments of rest, revealing what holds the family together despite occasional disputes.
personal program

Highway

Sergey Dvorcevoy
Kazakhstan, Germany, France / 1999 / 57 min.
section: Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Czech Premiere
In the Dark
A blind octogenarian lives with his headstrong white cat in a small apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. In an effort to be helpful to others, he weaves shopping bags out of string, which he then distributes to people on the street in order to make new acquaintances and get out of his isolation. In the ephemeral world of interchangeable plastic products, there is no interest in his distinctive products, reminiscent of the time long past. A testimony about the clash of modern and traditional Russia leaves us with the question: is it in fact the old man who is blind and lonely, or those who ignore his kind gesture?
personal program

In the Dark

Sergey Dvorcevoy
Finland, Russia / 2004 / 40 min.
section: Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Czech Premiere
Paradise
Sergei Dvortsevoy came across the subject of his first film while flying across the Kazakh steppe when by chance he noticed a small isolated community of nomadic herders. Gaining access to their world was not easy and shooting for this under-30-minute film required over three months and four cameramen. Despite this, he perfectly captured the everyday life of the steppe nomads, from routine tasks such as preparing meals, to unexpected, sometimes comic situations, to the moment when the camp must move on to greener pastures.
personal program

Paradise

Sergey Dvorcevoy
Kazakhstan / 1995 / 23 min.
section: Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Czech Premiere
The Bread Day
For kilometers around a small village, nothing can be seen but a snow-covered landscape. Several villagers wait at the station for the weekly train that brings food and is their only link with the outside world. It is Tuesday, bread day. At the turnout, the last freight car is disconnected, and old men and women must push it along the track to the village. The director captured life in an abandoned, dying village near St. Petersburg in long takes that allow the villagers to adapt to the presence of the camera, and gives the viewer time to enter the world of the congregated isolated people and animals.
personal program

The Bread Day

Sergey Dvorcevoy
Russia / 1998 / 54 min.
section: Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
Czech Premiere
Tulpan
A seemingly endless landscape of the Kazakh steppe is inhabited by families of shepherds living in modest yurts and their huge herds of sheep. Young Asa wants to start his own family and herd, and therefore woos the beautiful Tulpan, who refuses him because of his big ears. A humorous love story framed by melancholic shots of the fascinating Kazakh countryside is laced with many humorous and moving moments while depicting the difficulties of life of nomadic herders and the importance of family and community togetherness in difficult times. 
personal program

Tulpan

Sergey Dvorcevoy
Poland, Germany, Russia, Kazakhstan / 2008 / 100 min.
section: Translucent Being: Sergey Dvortsevoy
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