The world premiere of the latest feature film by Bulgarian director Georgi Djulgerov will open the 13th edition of Sofia International Film Festival at 7.30 p.m.
March 5 at Number One Hall of the National Palace of Culture. "The Goat" was based on the novella under the same title by the late Bulgarian writer Yordan Radichkov. The screenplay is to the credit of Georgi Djulgerov and the young writer Kristin Dimitrova, who made her debut in cinema. The leading actors are Ivan Burnev (who starred in Djulgerov's "Lady Zee") and the American Angela Rodel. Radoslav Spassov is director of photography. The film was produced by BR film supported by the National Film Centre, the Bulgarian National Television and Nu Boyana Film.
In this story animals have been bestowed with wisdom, insight and kindness. The he-goat from the title is the narrator and the protagonist of the story at the same time. He comes down from Heaven with a mission - to prevent the locals from digging out a treasure buried near an ancient Thracian shrine. A man and a woman coming from different national backgrounds launch a hunt for the treasure, which turns into a tragic and comic duel of cultural prejudices only to realize in the end that what they feel for each other is their greatest treasure. Or as the writer put it, "Man is but one long sentence, written with great love and inspiration, but wrought with spelling mistakes".
The film's protagonists are a Bulgarian man and an American woman enchanted with Bulgarian folklore. Emphasis is laid on the clash between the prejudices of the Eastern European, who has lived sealed in his world until not that long ago, and the representative of a nation that pretends to be a cosmopolitan one.
In the film Angela Rodel plays almost a version of herself. She is a musician and ethnomusicologist by profession. She has been living in Bulgaria since 2005. As a student at Yale University she joined the Yale Slavic Choir, where she heard for the first time the "Mystery of Bulgarian Voices" choir and fell in love with Bulgarian folk music. Having listened to all the recordings that were available to her at the time, Angela finally landed in Bulgaria in 1995 to attend the nation-wide folklore fair in Koprivshtitsa. She stayed and studied Bulgarian Studies at Sofia University for a year and dedicated herself to Bulgarian folk songs. "The Goat" is her first attempt at film acting. "The chance of working with Georgi Djulgerov and the film crew gave me an amazing introduction to Bulgarian cinema that I shall remember for ever," Angela says.
There are two more very important ‘actors' in this feature: the he-goat Bozo, a docile and castrated animal, and Charlie, Bozo's boisterous ‘stunt' for the ‘action' scenes. The animals were trained and belong to the rare breed of Black Kalofer Goat. Featuring in this film are the Bulgarian actors Ivan Savov, Krassimir Dokov, Lyubov Lyubcheva and the company of the Theatre of Drama and Music in the town of Kurdzhali, Southeastern Bulgaria.
The film crew chose several locations: the Stone Wedding natural phenomenon, Perperikon, the village of Tatoul near Kurdzhali and the port of Burgas on the Black Sea, where one of the goats starred in an action scene. He was hanging in the air on a platform and controlling the situation from high above. The audience who will come to the closing of the On the Coast Sofia Film Festival in Burgas will be able to judge the goat's performance.
Djulgerov has long dreamt of making a film after Radichkov's novella "The Goat". The work of the great Bulgarian writer dedicated to love has attracted the film director much in the way his love of cinema has done.
If you take a side look, Georgi Djulgerov's biography will spin before the eyes as if driven by a camera - the machine rolls the film of his life and brings up title after title, and the respective distinctions or inconveniences. His second film, "The Test" (1971) won the Youth Jury Award of the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland. Acknowledgements started coming one after the other: a prize at the Manheim film festival (1972), a prize at the Youth Film Festival in Cannes (1972), and the prize of the film critics at the Golden Rose film festival in Varna. With "Advantage" (1977), based on a screenplay written in cooperation with lead actor Rousy Chanev, Djulgerov won the Silver Bear Award at the film festival in West Berlin in 1978. The tandem told the story of a pickpocket, and former prisoner nicknamed the Cock (played by Rousy Chanev), who tried to fit into the life of Socialist era Bulgaria after September 9, 1944.
Shortly after "Advantage" came the hugely successful "Measure for Measure" (1981). Chanev and Djulgerov wrote the screenplay together once more but this time based on the novel "A Liturgy for St' Elijah's Day' by Svoboda Buchvarova. Until then the subject of the struggles of the Bulgarians in Macedonia and the drama of the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising of 1903 was a taboo. The preparation for the shooting took a while. Djulgerov and Chanev spent months working at the Central Party Archives; they copied documents by hand, because they were allowed neither to film, nor to record with a cassette recorder. At the end of the day they left their notes with a supervisor who marked the pages with red ink to make sure she was aware of the content of the documents. After the film's opening everyone was stunned - it turned out the plot differed from what was written in the history textbooks. The film won the awards of the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers (1981) for best director, sound engineer for Mihail Karidov and costume design for Maria Sotirova. "Measure for Measure" snatched also the prestigious prizes of the Festival of Bulgarian Feature Films in Varna (1982) for best director, lead actor (for Rousy Chanev) and the critics' award.
Georgi Djulgerov has received the following distinctions for his other work: Grand Prix from the festival in Georgia and the Youth Jury Award in Mons, Belgium for "Black Swallow" (1996). "Lady Zee" (2005) garnered a host of prestigious international distinctions from the film festivals in Sarajevo (Grand Prix - Heart of Sarajevo and the CICAE Award - 2005), Montreal (audience award - 2005), "Love Is Folly" International Film Festival in Varna ("Golden Aphrodite" for best actress for Anelia Gurbova, FIPRESCI Prize - 2005), 10th edition of Sofia International Film Festival (for best Bulgarian feature film and the FIPRESCI Prize - 2006), The Prize of the National Film Centre Executive Agency for best feature film of 2004/2005, The Prize of the Central European Initiative of the 17th Trieste International Film Festival'06, Awards from the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers'06 (including for best lead actor for Ivan Burnev), Tolerance Prize of the International Critics Jury at the Palic European Film Festival'06.
Other films directed by Djulgerov include "And the Day Came" (1973), "The Swap" (1978), "The Camp" (1990), "Hour Glass" (1999), etc.
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