The circus was the only entertainment on a journey of many months along the ancient Silk Road from Europe to China. In Uzbekistan, currently a dictatorship, the circus is as alive as it was in the days of Genghis Khan. The circus acts, too, have changed little.
Two circus artists are forced to choose between continuing the old circus tradition and politics. Their different choices seriously affect their lifelong friendship.
Biography FRANK VAN DEN ENGEL & MASHA NOVIKOVA
Directors Between Heaven and Earth
Frank van den Engel, born in 1956 in Rotterdam, started his career as managing director of Strengholt Televideo. In 1997 he started an independent documentary production company Zeppers Film & TV as executive producer and in ten years time he produced over 45 films, for theatre and television, some of them awarded at prestigious festivals around the world (Andre Hazes-she believes in me, Dans, Grozny Dans, Voices of Bam). Nowadays he combines production work with the development and realisation of his own film projects, and with the coaching of first time directors. His debut Normaal- I always come back (82’) was theatrically released in 2002.
Masha Novikova was born in 1956 in Moscow, USSR. She studied pedagogy at the University of Moscow and worked as a teacher Russian language and literature. In Kazakhstan she worked as a director-assistant in a German drama theatre.
Short before the fall of the Berlin Wall she came to the Netherlands to work as an executive producer for Dutch television. At the same time she studied at Stefan Mayakowski’s ‘Kunstweb’ camera, script writing and film direction.
Since 2000 she also started to film herself, she worked with mini-dv as the second film photographer for several documentaries. In 2005 she directed her first film Fallen Engel, a documentary about traffic in East -European women who were brought to the Netherlands to work as prostitutes. In April 2000, just after Grozny’s total destruction, she worked on a documentary in Chechnya by Leo de Boer entitled Train to Grozny. Driven by a feeling of shame about her own country, she has felt very much involved with the Chechnen war ever since. In 2002 she filmed in Grozny for Jos de Putter’s film Dance Grozny, Dance where she met Van den Engel at Zeppers Film. She did several film reports on Chechnya. In 2003 she worked with Amnesty International on a film about Lydia Yusupova, who won the Martin Ennals prize in Geneva, an international award for the bravest woman. Three Comrades (2006) about three Chechen comrades’ lives during the war and peace, which she directed herself, was awarded at Int. Film Festival Valladolid Spain.
D.O.P MELLE VAN ESSEN– Sound engineer PIETER GUYT – Camera Assistant SANDER ROELEVELD – Editor STEFAN KAMP – Original music HANS HELEWAUT – Co-producer ERIC GOOSSENS Producers JORINDE SORÉE, WILLEMIJN CERUTTI, FREDERIK NICOLAI – Directors FRANK VAN DEN ENGEL & MASHA NOVIKOVA.
A ZEPPERS FILM production in co-production with IKON and OFF WORLD
This film was produced with support from the Dutch Cultural Media Fund, CoBO and Flanders Audiovisual Fund