Sergey Dvortsevoy – Letter to the Director

Dear Sergey. Around 10 years ago you were in Copenhagen to present your film school diploma work, ”Paradise”. You declared yourself as a dedicated documentarian, and you proved to be one of the best with the films that followed: ”Bread Day”, ”Highway” and ”In the Dark”. You have been awarded for your work, you have deserved it as the brilliant filmmaker you are, who can catch the magic moments, the ones you have been waiting for to appear after long research, as you did with ”Paradise” from the steppes of the Kazakhstan with the people you love so much. Now you have returned to the same theme with your ”Tulpan”, a film that is touring the world with success. When we met last December in Copenhagen, you told me that you were happy to have switched to fiction – you have reached a bigger audience and you don’t have the ethical problem that you were told to have created for the people in ”Paradise”, who had been critizised heavily for taking part in a film that represents kazakh reality as poor and miserable. I saw ”Tulpan” yesterday and I love it – for being a continuation of your documentary work with scenes that I will never forget. The birth of a lamb, you keep the scene for a wonderful long time. The little boy running on the steppes as in ”Paradise”. The nature images. The sheep being kept as a flock… and so on. 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. I can not help compare the mother in ”Paradise” with the mother in ”Tulpan”. There is a world of difference. The first is the mother, the other acts a mother, and she does that well. In the first film you wait for things to happen, in ”Tulpan” you say ”action”. Hope you understand this small reflection on documentary and fiction – there is a small fine drama in ”Tulpan” surrounded by magic images and situations that has that documentary presence that is your quality stamp! Best wishes from your true admirer Tue. Photo from “Paradise”.

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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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