Sergey Dvortsevoy in Cannes

In 2010, at DOKLeipzig, I attended a masterclass with the director, whose documentaries I have always adored and still do. One of the true masters of modern documentary. I knew him from the 1990’es, where his ”Paradise” was shown on Danish television. Later on came ”Bread Day”, also shot on 35mm material, a no-budget film that he made from the negative material that he had won as awards for ”Paradise”. Ratio: 1:2,5!!! And ”Highway” and ”In the Dark”, a film about a blind man in Moscow, it was four years in production. Dvortsevoy is a director, who makes no compromises, always looking for precision.

The year before I had written an open letter to the director, a quite pathetic one, where I express my regret that he had turned to fiction with ”Tulpan”. My criticism: ” You got some of the magical documentary moments that you can not put into a script. But you also have a story and it is full of humour and warmth. It is close to the reality you know, but they act, you can see that they perform, some of them over-act. I like it but you lose something in terms of the truthfulness you have in your previous work…”

You had explained to me that one of the reasons for turning to fiction was to avoid the problems you had had with ”Paradise”, where the people who took part in the film was heavily critisized for showing the Kazakh reality as poort and miserable. Respect for that. So Dvortsevoy went for fiction, as did Kieslowski.

Years ago, when in Moscow, my wife and I met Dvortsevoy, who told us passionately about his new film project, that is now finished and taken for the main competition in Cannes next month. Original title is ”Ayka”, international title is ”My Little One”. The synopsis goes like this ” A young Kyrgyz girl – Ayka – lives and works illegally in Moscow. After giving birth to her son she leaves him in hospital. Some time later, however, her motherly yearning leads her to desperate attempts of finding the abandoned child… Dvortsevoy told us that he had done the research with a video camera, the whole film, to be sure that all would work when the real filming was to start.

So curious to see how many magical documentary moments the great director has found this time!


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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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