BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH

Frank van den Engel & Masha Novikova

Info

a documentary film by Frank van den Engel and Masha Novikova in co-production with Zeppers Film & TV and IKON (NL), supported by Media-fund (NL) and Flanders audiovisual fund (BE). Released in january 2007

On the long journey of many months along the ancient Silk Road from Europe to China, the circus was the only entertainment along the way. In Uzbekistan, currently under dictatorship, the circus tradition is thriving, just as it was in the days of Genghis Khan, and the circus acts have changed little. Two circus artists must choose between continuing the old circus tradition and political involvement. Their choices have a serious effect on their lifelong friendship.

Credits

DIRECTED BY FRANK VAN DEN ENGEL & MASHA NOVIKOVA

WRITTEN BY FRANK VAN DEN ENGEL
CAMERA & LIGHT MELLE VAN ESSEN
SOUND ENGINEER PIETERS GUYT
EDITED BY STEFAN KAMP
ORIGINAL MUSIC HANS HELEWAUT
PRODUCED BY JORINDE SORÉE, WILLEMIJN CERUTTI
ERIC GOOSSENS, FREDERIK NICOLAI

Press

SLANT MAGAZINE|

Circus Politics: Frank van den Engel & Masja Novikova's Between Heaven and Earth
BY SHEILA O'MALLEY ON MAY 4TH, 2007 AT 6:30 AM IN FESTIVALS, FILM
Screened at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

Tursan, a gentlemen with a white beard and gold teeth, smiles into the camera and says, "For my circus, I need peace." Peace has been hard to come by in Central Asia, especially since the crack-up of the Soviet Union, and Tursan says, "A circus should steer clear of politics." The circus is a major cultural tradition in this part of the world, but in the perilous 1990s it was not always possible for a circus to "steer clear of politics." Between Heaven and Earth (Tussen hemel en aarde), a lovely, lyrical documentary directed by Frank van den Engel and Masja Novikova, looks at two interconnected circus families in Uzbekistan, examining how they have been impacted by dictatorship (both Russian and Uzbek) and what it means for the circus.Achat and Tursan have been friends and circus performers since they were little boys. Their paths have diverged in recent years due to differing philosophies about politics. The dictatorship in Uzbekistan, which rose in the wake of Communism's downfall, has persecuted both of them for their political affiliations. Achat spent two years in prison, where he was tortured. "That is something we do not talk about," says Achat. Achat and Tursan were members of ERK, the democratic party, for which they were both arrested. Tursan, since the death of his son (Achat claims that Tursan's son was murdered, as retaliation for his father's political activities), has backed out of politics completely. He focuses on his family and on the circus. Achat, however, continues to organize, heading up a human rights organization, which provides legal aid to those in need. His family, his friends, plead with him to be cautious, to not make waves, to not call attention to himself. Tursan refuses. There is now a rift, a painful rift, between these two friends.
Between Heaven and Earth mixes interviews (featuring Achat, Tursan and others) with absolutely incredible footage of their circus performances, all set against the mountainous Uzbekistan landscape. The circuses, for the most part, take place in dusty public squares. This is not Cirque du Soleil, with big-budget production values and a soundtrack. This is circus at its most pure, its most raw. These people are amazing. We see a strong man pull a