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the Translator

Born in Davos in 1917 to a Jewish intellectual family, “the Translator” Juri Elperin revisits today
his life story as he journeyed from Berlin to Paris, Moscow and back to Berlin during the historical
events of the 20th century. In his adventures, the German language, literature and a renowned
cultural circle proved an invaluable company. During Stalin’s anti-Cosmopolitan campaign, Juri
settles in the secluded literary village of Peredelkino, and he starts translating. Over 150 Russian
modern and classical works find a German audience through the writings of Juri, gaining him the
national prize and a great fame amongst literary circles.

  • Manfred Wiesner
    Director
    first feature
  • Grigory Manyuk
    Director
    'Nathan, the Sage, 300 years after'(2001), ‘Flashback’(camera, director Herz Frank, 2003)
  • n/a
    Writer
  • Manfred Wiesner
    Producer
    first feature
  • Romanus Fuhrmann
    Key Cast
    ‘the Threepenny Opera’, director: Klaus Maria Brandauer (2006)
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    der Uebersetzer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    History, Literature, Biographies
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 1 minute
  • Completion Date:
    October 14, 2014
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    Germany
  • Country of Filming:
    France, Germany, Russian Federation, Switzerland
  • Language:
    German, Russian
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital/Video HD
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
  • 21.st Jewish Film Festival Berlin 2015
    BerlinJewish Museum Berlin Lindenstr. 9-14 10969 Berlin
    May 13, 2015
    World, German
Director Biography - Manfred Wiesner, Grigory Manyuk

Born in 1975 in Salzburg, Austria. He attended film production and directing courses at Raindance in London, specialized in documentaries at News-On-Video in Vienna, and followed Daniel Meyers in camera tutorials in Paris. In 2012 he met Juri Elperin and inspired by his story he decided to turn it into a film. ‘The Translator’ is his first feature documentary. Manfred currently lives in London.

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Director Statement

My greatest interest in documentaries is based on their power to present the art of life in its uttermost strength: ‘Life itself caught in the act’. I am looking for stories that inspire, speak of ideas and give a perspective, stories that connect to history.
Meeting Juri and hearing his story left me with no other wish than to turn it into a film for a wider audience. The back-ground of the dramatic history of the 20th century gives the story a political perspective, in which the human character of Juri carries the warmth of optimism. He is a true intellectual of the 20th century, with a fresh humour and a young heart and brain. His persistence to make the best of his situation turned the restrictions of his life into his greatest success and at close to 40 years of age he was able to start a new career. In this story I found the proof that language and culture stay always with you and can provide for a better quality of life: In Juri’s case his language provided for a home when he was left with none.
I asked Juri to revisit his life from one place to the next and embark with me on the same journey after all these years. In respect to the generosity of Juri who accepted to take part in this, I did everything I could to make it an honest film that remains true to its subject. With a very small budget, but a true passion to make this story known, we managed to make a film that stays in your heart.