Between Heaven and Earth| 1hr : 11mins
Director: Frank van den Engel & Masja Novikova | Producer: Frank van den Engel
Focus Years: 2007 | Country: Netherlands
The documentary is set in Uzbekistan, a country whose population is constantly being watched by a comprehensive system of secret services and informers. Since 1991, this former Soviet republic has its independence, to the extent that the Russians installed Islam Karimov, who has since established a dictatorship and has no plans to relinquish power. The film tells the story of Achat and Tarsun, childhood friends who are now in their late fifties. At the age of seven they were swept away when a tightrope walker came to their village. They both decided to become apprentices to the artist, and they have been the best of friends ever since. They grow up together, fall in love, start a family and each build up their own family circus. They both join the proscribed opposition party ERK â€“ meaning "freedom" in Uzbek. Achat develops into a fully-fledged activist, while Tarsunâ€™s talents lie in administration; he rises to the vice-chairmanship of the party. One year after Uzbekistanâ€™s independence all opposition parties are outlawed. ERK goes underground. Tarsun remains active, but Achat decides to become a member of an active human rights organization, because he does not want to be an outlaw. And then one day, some ten years ago now, Tarsun hears that his son Davron has drowned in unexplained circumstances. It appears to be a final warning for Tarsun to stop his illegal activities. He takes the warning to heart and leaves the party overnight, his resistance broken. He sets himself up as an educator of the people, but stays away from politics in order to protect his family. However hard Tarsun and Achat try to hang on to their special bond, their friendship comes under strong pressure regardless. Both men in their own way struggle with the dilemma of the choices they have had to make, for themselves, for their friendship and for their loved ones.