Turn Your Body to the Sun

The life of writer Sana Valiulina's father was marked by two dictators: Hitler and Stalin. Together with five million fellow prisoners of war, this Soviet soldier was first captured by the Nazis and then sent to Stalin's prison camps. Who was this man, his daughter wonders. How did he manage to survive where millions of others were starved and tortured until they failed? Valiulina previously wrote the romanticized novel “Didar and Farouk” about her family history, but in this film she delves into the family archive with more questions and scrutiny. In Turn Your Body to the Sun, Aliona van der Horst follows Valiulina's search for her father Sandar, using a variety of sources. The absent hero has his say through letters and diaries. A picture of the times is etched using archive material. That footage is not unproblematic: It comes from Soviet propaganda and films shot by German soldiers on the Eastern Front. By coloring it, slowing it down, zooming in, Van der Horst strips it of its historical contamination: a subtle form of ostranenie and reappropriation. And meanwhile, as we look at history, history also looks back at us. What are the traces of that past that we are dealing with again today? While Sana Valiulina travels by train to eastern Russia with her sister Dinar, Turn Your Body to the Sun unfolds like an intuitive exploration of history, memory and traces of the past. In all the faces that pass by, we can see father Valiulin's face. He seems to have predicted it himself in one of his letters: ”Everything that happens does not happen to me, but to someone else.” An everyman with a missing history. (Dana Linssen)

Director's Filmography (Selection)
Gerlach (2023, doc; CE24) - Turn Your Body to the Sun (2021, doc; CE24) - Liefde is Aardappelen (Love Is Potatoes, 2017, doc; CE18 & 24) - 15 Attempts (2013, doc) - Don’t Shoot The Messenger (2013, doc) - Water Children (2011, doc; CE24) - Boris Ryzhy (2008, doc; CE10 & 24) - Voices Of Bam (2006, doc, co-directed with Maasja Ooms; CE24) - A Passion For The Hermitage (doc series, 2006) - Na de lente van ’68 (After The Spring Of ’68, 2001, mid-length doc) - De dame met het witte hoedje (The Lady with the White Hat, 1997, mid-length doc)
Tribute 2024
Aliona van der Horst
Netherlands 2021
93 minutes
Russian / Dutch / English
OV with English subtitles

Screenings / Tickets

Film guest(s) present: Aliona van der Horst (Director)

To purchase tickets, please click on the desired date.
Screenplay Aliona van der Horst
Cinematography Rogier Timmermans
Editing Gys Zevenbergen
Sound/Sounddesign Rik Meier, Mark Glynne, Tom Bijnen
Music Anton Silaev
With Sana Valiulina
Producer(s) Ilja Roomans
Docmakers, NTR, Südwestrundfunk
World Sales
Taskovski Films
Austrian Premiere
World Premiere
IDFA 2021