Sergei Dvortsevoy first earned notice in New York during a 1999 Film Forum run of his works Highway and Paradise, a double bill that the New York Times termed a testament to the magical power of film to transport the onlooker into other lives and distant lands, to kindle contemplation, offer perspective and excite. Comparing him to Frederick Wiseman for his unobtrusive, observational style, the Village Voice said that Dvortsevoy uses his camera to take us to places where it truly feels like cameras have never gone before. Whereas his past works have traversed Kazakhstan steppes or bundled through a wintry Siberian village, his newest film, In the Dark, was filmed in one city block, with only one human protagonist, yet within it there lies more insight into contemporary Russian society than any fictional narrative could hope to express. In a claustrophobic Moscow apartment, a blind man and a cat have declared war on each other. The man makes shopping bags out of string, while the cat lingers above and below, waiting to unravel his efforts. Afterwards, the man tries to hand out his bags on the street, but no one takes them, nor even bothers to explain what he cannot see: that his little cottage industry has long since been made obsolete by modern inventions. Through a few days in the life of one man, one cat, and one filmmaker, In the Dark quietly observes a post-Communist (and seemingly pre-capitalist) Russia still lingering in the past, with no eye for the future.
Sergei Dvortsevoy was born in 1962, in Chimkent, Kazakhstan. He graduated from aviation college in the Ukraine, a radio technical institute in Novosibirsk, Russia, and completed a higher course for film directors and scriptwriters in 1992. His films have won over fifty awards at film festivals worldwide. Chastie (1995) won Best Short Film at France's Cinema du Reel, the Golden Spire at the San Francisco Film Festival, and the Mercedes Benz and Audience prizes at Germany's Leipzig Film Festival. Bread Day (1998) won Best Short Documentary and Young Audience Prize at the Visions du Reel, Nyon, Switzerland, and grand prizes at the Shortfilm Festival in St. Petersburg and the Ukraine's Kiev Film Festival. Highway (1999) won Best Anthropological Documentary at the Festival Dei Popoli in Florence, Italy, the Nika prize for the year's best documentary in Moscow, and the Tarkovsky International Foundation Prize. Dvortsevoy recently started work on the feature film, Tulpan.