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Between Heaven and Earth

North American Premiere

Netherlands | 70 MINUTES | Russian, Uzbek |

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH

Female Director(s), Documentary

Uzbekistan, which lies at the heart of the Eurasian continent where the Silk Road once connected China to Europe, has a deeply rooted circus tradition that has thrived from long before the Soviet era to the present. Childhood friends Achat and Tarsun are part of that longstanding tradition. Now in their late 50's, the pair joined the circus as youngsters after a tightrope walker came to their village. Between Heaven and Earth is a beautifully crafted film about the balancing act required of its two subjects under the Uzbek dictatorship that came to power after the fall of the Soviet Union. Once both members of the now outlawed democratic opposition party, ERK, the two friends no longer agree on political issues. Tarsun has left the party, preferring to protect and dedicate himself to his family after a traumatic loss, while Achat puts all his energy into activism despite his family's fears that he will be arrested again. The two men clearly still love and respect each other, but their differing responses to the pressures that the dictatorship exerts on them causes a seemingly unbridgeable rift. Set against the stunning Uzbek landscape, the film weaves mesmerizing imagery from the men's circus performances with interviews and candid moments from their personal lives, showing how the circus, which lies at the root of their deep friendship, is also the forum in which they pursue their divergent endeavors. An enlightening look at a part of the world virtually unknown to Western audiences, this film is also a stirring exploration of the universal difficulty of balancing convictions, commitments, ambitions and friendships.