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News 08 Nov 17

Balkan Productions Shortlisted for European Oscars

Romanian and Bulgarian-involved film productons are competing in the 30th European Film Awards, the winners of which will be announced in December in Berlin. 

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
A scene from the "King of Belgians". Photo: http://www.kingof.be

Four films with Bulgarian and Romanian participation have been shortlisted in four different categories for the prestigious European Film Awards.

“King of the Belgians”, a co-production of Belgium, the Netherlands and Bulgaria, is competing in the European Comedy category, while the Bulgarian-Danish-French Drama “Godless”, has been chosed as one of five films being presented in the European Discovery category.

The other two – “The Good Postman” by Bulgarian-Finnish director Tonislav Hristov and “Written/Unwritten” by Romanian director Adrian Silisteanu – have been selected for the Documentary and Short Film categories respectively.

The competitors for the European Film Academy's 2017 awards were announced at the Seville European Film Festival Monday night and will be voted on by more than 3,000 members of the European Film Academy before the awards ceremony on December 9 in Berlin.

Other notable, leading entries include Hungarian romantic drama “On Body and Soul”, by director Ildikó Enyedi, Ruben Ostlund's “The Square” (a joint production from Sweden, Germany, France and Denmark), as well as acclaimed Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev's “Loveless”, which are all shortlisted for multiple categories.

But what are the stories of the Balkan produtions that reached the echelons of Europe's best films, according to the academy?

King of the Belgians

King of the Belgians trailer | Film Fest Gent 2016 

 

“King of the Belgians” is part mockumentary, part road-trip film, in which a sleeping monarch travelling through the Balkans to Istanbul awakens to the news that his country has fallen apart. 

He must return home to save his kingdom, but a solar storms shuts down all flights and communications. He manages to escape over the Turkish border with the help of a British filmmaker and a troupe of Bulgarian folk singers, starting an odyssey through the Balkans, conncecting with the real world that he usually stays far removed from, and subsequently, himself.

Produced and directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, the film has been described by Variety as "gently satirical humor with deeper underpinnings."

Godless

Godless | trailer on Youtube

 

This drama by Bulgarian director Ralitza Petrova won the prestigious Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival in 2016, and grabbed the audience’s attention at several other film festivals, including those in Sarajevo, Reykjavik and Warsaw.

The main character is a nurse from a remote Bulgarian town, who looks after elderly people suffering from dementia, while offloading their ID cards on the black market. Driven by her morphine addiction, nothing seems to shake her conscience, not even the murder of one her patients, which threatens to expose her crimes.

But her life only changes when she meets a new patient whose documents she had previously sold. The empathy the nurse feels for the old man pushes her to make a change, but it comes at a price.

“Nearly thirty years after its collapse, the consequence of communism keeps claiming its toll, where you get away with murder without punishment, and a possibility for hope can only emerge when all is lost," said the director of the film, adding that it depicts "the fall of an ordinary person, forced to act against their good conscience.” 

The Good Postman

 

The Bulgarian-Finnish film production, which tells the story of a village on the Bulgarian border with Turkey – widely known as the “Great Gate” for migrants and refugees heading to Europe – has already achieved global success.

The film, which mixes documentary with fiction, became the first Bulgarian production to be selected for the Sundance Documentary Competition in 2017 and made its debut at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival.

Finland-based director Tonislav Hristov caused a stir with his project, which explores the feelings caused by the refugee crisis among regular people on the border of Europe in a period of rising nationalism and xenophobia.

Written/Unwritten

By Rotterdam Film Festival on Youtube
 

Shortlisted in the European Short Film Category, the film tells the story of a Romanian Roma family, which has just learned that their underage daughter has become the mother of a baby girl. The displeased father, Pardica, blames his wife.

To make things worse, a hospital employee discovers issues related to their IDs and positions as parents of an underage mother, meaning they face the danger of being separated from their daughter by state authorities.

Director Adrian Silisteanu says that the idea for the film emerged from a real life situation he witnessed in front of a maternity ward.

“A Roma family waiting for their underage 15-year-old daughter to give birth suddenly found itself in the absurd situation of being separated from her, because of faults in the system,” he said, adding that the purpose of his movie is to “raise a series of questions related to the way society tries to settle the interactions between its members, not taking into account the specificity and individuality of each of them.”

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