Whether you’re heading to the Sofia International Film Festival this month or just want to dig deeper than ever before into the rich world of New East cinema, The Calvert Journal has found the very best of this year’s offerings from both Bulgaria and beyond.
Directed by Bulgarian director Milko Lazarov, Ága closed this year’s Berlinale with an emotional drama awash with stunning cinematography to capture the desolate Arctic tundra. Centred on the lives of an isolated Inuit couple, Sedna and her husband Nanook, who see their traditional way of life dissolving with the winter ice. Their only daughter, Ága, has long moved away to work in the local diamond mine — much to her father’s displeasure. But when Sedna becomes ill, he must overcome his own misgivings to reunite the family one last time.
Memories of Fear (2016)
Poetic and humerous, Memories of Fear captures 45 years of Bulgaria’s Communist regime without judgement or criticism. Director Ivan Pavlov instead seeks to capture an image of moral pain: wasted lives, humiliations and trauma. As well as winning both best feature film and best director at the 2016 Bulgarian Film Academy Awards, it captured audiences by including banned scenes from socialist-era drama Mass Miracle, cut from the final release by the country’s censors.
See you in Chechnya (2016)
Alex Kvatashidze’s feature documentary follows the war reporters who witnessed bloodshed and conflict for more than 15 years in the Russian region of Chechnya. Each journalist and photographer — including Alex himself — changes under the gruelling pressure of warfare, often taking the battle home with them long after their tour is over.
Ilian Metev’s debut film has already been well recieved on the Bulgarian circuit, receiving the Golden Rose award in Varna for best director. Centred on a single family during their last summer together, the director plays with the delicate relationships between each children, parents and siblings. As well as using their own names, the actors also improvised many of their lines, blurring the line between their real selves and the characters they play.
I See Red People (2018)
Je Vois Rouge (I See Red People) follows director Bojina Panayotova as she digs into her family’s murky past in socialist Bulgaria. Mixing archive footage with family interviews, Panayotova examines her own childhood memories and her parents’ own priviledged positions in communist society, far from the world of political repressions and poverty. It’s a reckoning which provides a unique glimpse at the regime through a very different lens.
The Sofia International Film Festival starts on 7 March and lasts until the end of the month. For more inforation, click here.