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Director's statement

Verena Endtner, director, about her first long documentary «Lucky Devils»:

 

"When you look into a person's face, you recognize whether this person had a simple or a difficult start in life. You can see it in the expression of the face and especially in the eyes". Gardi Hutter, Swiss clown


We experienced St. Petersburg bathed in optimism: capitalism is thriving and everyone is trying to establish their own business in line with the motto: if you can’t make it now, you’ll never make it and it’s your own fault! But there is also a layer of society that has missed the boat, slid into poverty and mourns the passing of the Soviet era, with its right to work and housing. Our film tells the story of children growing up in this environment – with no prospects, no future. Many fled to the streets, slipping into petty crime, getting caught by the police and being placed in state boarding schools, where they break out again a little later. A vicious cycle!

For these young people, Upsala Circus is like a lifeline. With untiring zeal, Larissa, the circus director, offers the children a refuge and infuses them with new hopes and desires.

What fascinates me most about Upsala Circus is its concept, for making the impossible possible. In line with the motto "Where there’s a will there is a way, even if it’s a detour" the circus has survived for ten years, changed, renewed itself, nearly quit but recovered again. And I can sense this attitude in our protagonists as well, in their everyday battle for a better life.

In selecting our protagonists, we have tried to represent as wide a range as possible from the socially vulnerable children, also with regard to their ages. At the same time, we make clear how fateful and important certain encounters can be. If Mischa hadn’t been discovered by Upsala Circus ten years ago, he would probably now be living on the streets like Nastja. Six-year-old Danja, who is desperately seeking adoptive parents, might be in a situation similar to Igor’s in a few years and runs the risk of ending up on the streets later.

Even in the Western world, the number of neglected children who socialize on the streets is increasing rapidly. Maybe we have tighter safety nets, but the problem remains. In times when the Winter Olympics in Sochi are just around the corner and the adoption of Russian children hit the headlines not only in diplomatic circles, the film is becoming more important.

About the director

Verena Endtner was born in Switzerland and did her Master in Biology at the Universities of Bern an Basel, focusing on environmental sciences. Then she studied film in London and Vancouver and graduated in Documentary Filmmaking. She worked in different positions for national and international TV. In 2004 she founded together with Dan Riesen the film production firm ALOCO GmbH in Switzerland, focusing on documentaries and cooperate films.

Filmography: documentaries (selections)

Thun moves Cultural-historical portrait of the medieval city of Thun, Switzerland.
The Goldweaver Portrait of a Swiss Goldsmith, 43’ HD.
Ein Handlanger des Selbst Portrait of the Swiss painter Mark Buchmann, who creates painting out of his sub consciousness. 51’.
Swiss textile industry in transition From mass production to high-tech textiles – the redimension of the Swiss textile production. 43’.
A losing battle Documentary on the last Swiss mail carrier by train. 42’.

Verena Endtner on Wikipedia.