Vancouver International Film Festival

Scott Wood

On Saturday October 6th, Scott Wood, host of the interview show, attended the Vancouver International Film Festival’s screening of Between Heaven and Earth.

Between Heaven and Earth 

Tussen Hemel en Aarde

Netherlands, 2007, 72 min

Directed By Frank van den Engel and Masha Novikova

These days when entertainers take on a cause, it often causes an uproar in the press. Madonna or Angelina Jolie adopting babies is seen as a fashion statement. Leonardio DiCaprio making documentaries about climate change is a vanity project.

A world away in post-USSR-collapse Uzbekistan, entertainers pay a much steeper price for being politically active.

Between Heaven and Earth follows two circus families. Two patriarchs, Achat and Tursun Ali, were friends when they were children, follow similar paths, starting their own family circuses. Both of their families make their living tightrope walking and performing feats of strength, lifting dumbbells in creative ways, for crowds of peasants. It is not an easy life, but they are employed—which is a lot more than most can say in Uzbekistan’s new economy.

Where once everyone was guaranteed a job and to be taken care of, nothing is guaranteed under the new capitalist regime. Many are unemployed and struggling to survive. Gas and other basic resources are scarce. Many are dissatisfied with the new government’s inability to take care of its people. However, the price of going against the forces of capitalism in post-USSR-collapse Uzbekistan are severe.

Achat was not only jailed for his involvement with the opposition party, but his house was burned down and his family left with nothing. Tursun Ali curtailed his involvement with the same party after his sensitive youngest son was found dead, having drowned in a pool of water that even a child could swim in.

And here the families diverge. Achat family struggles, but, out of jail, Achat still is committed to helping the people and maintains ties with the party, even though the threat of theft, imprisonment or death is always present. Conversely, distancing himself from the opposition party has benefited Tursun Ali. He has prospered. His family lives in an ornate house and throws a lavish wedding for another of his sons.

In a scene near the end where Tursun Ali sees Achat walking down the street with a rug he has bought on sale. Tursun Ali takes from Achat and carries it for him. Although Ali is wealthier and therefore a bigger players in their community, he will honor Achat’s sacrifices.

Another documentary that deftly illustrates how the privatization of a former Socialist government has benefited a few wealthy men—and left a legacy of carnage, poverty and sadness for the majority.

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  • Posted on: 11 March 2016
  • By: Administrator
  • Author: Scott Wood