sergei dvortsevoy stepping out with tulpan

– . – Sergei Dvortsevoy: Stepping out with TULPAN


Sergei Dvortsevoy: Stepping out with TULPAN

By his own reckoning, Kazakh director Sergei Dvortsevoy came to filmmaking late in life, and almost by accident. After making four award-winning documentaries, Dvortsevoy embarked on making his first fiction film, set on the barren steppe of his native Kazakhstan.

TULPAN is the story of Asa who, after completing his naval service, wants to settle down as a shepherd. In order to do this, he has to take a wife and the only hope is Tulpan, the daughter of another shepherd. However, she rejects him because his ears are too big.

This touching and humorous story of a young man’s struggle to make a new life for himself in a hostile environment has already garnered the director festival awards, including the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes, Best Film at Zurich Film Festival, the Golden Peacock Best Film prize at the International Film Festival of India, and London Film Festival’s The Sutherland Trophy for the director of the most original and imaginative first feature film.

TULPAN is scheduled for UK release in May. movieScope caught up with the director at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

You didn’t start out as a filmmaker but as an engineer.
I first went to Aviation College and I then worked for nine years as a radio engineer for the Russian airline Aeroflot, in Kazakhstan during the time of the Soviet Union.

“To change life isn’t so easy, and I already had a career in Aeroflot.”

What made you change from that to being a filmmaker?
I never dreamed to be a filmmaker. Before Aviation College, I went to sports school. I wanted to become a football player. They’d already proposed for me to join a professional team, but then I ended up joining the Aviation College. I never thought about doing creative work. I read a lot of literature—every Russian likes to read literature: Chekhov, Dostoevsky, etc. I never thought you could join this world without money or without special familiars who could help you. I thought it was a closed world. But one day I read an announcement in a local newspaper for higher education, and it said that if you want to join film school, in the documentary department, then please send us your essays, or photos, or some other works. I immediately sent them some material, and they said, “Come to us for next level of exams.” I passed three steps of exams, and suddenly I realised I was a filmmaker… student. I was a little bit scared because I wasn’t very prepared. It was completely by chance… out of boredom. I was completely bored of aeroplanes.

There must have been some talent there in the first place.
I really don’t know why they took me.

Even now I don’t understand. Maybe I should ask my teacher!

Why did you choose documentaries?
For me, whether it was documentaries or animation didn’t really matter. I joined just to change my life. I didn’t know documentaries. I saw some films on TV, but I never dreamed to make them. Even if they’d proposed me to dance, I would have joined the film school for dancing. I just wished to change something, and I was already 28 years old.

That’s not so old.
But for film school it’s not so young either. To change life isn’t so easy, and I already had a career in Aeroflot.

So it was a big life change for you? In film school you made some documentaries…
I made my first doc short PARADISE (SCHASTYE) in 1996. That was a student film that was very successful at festivals, and I won many important festival prizes. Then I made three more films. So I’d made four documentary films, but never a fiction film. When I started, I realised that I love documentary film because it is life and I love life.

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