SOFIA: Maya Vitkova will represent Bulgaria at European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move in Cannes.
Born in 1978, the Sofia-based producer is also one of Bulgaria’s promising younger generation script writing and film directing talents. Earlier this year her debut Viktoria, coproduced by Bulgaria’s Viktoria Films and Romania’s Mandragora, became the first Bulgarian feature ever selected in the main competitions of the Sundance and the Rotterdam film festivals and won the Breaking Waves award for best film of the Titanic International Film Festival.
Since graduating from the Sofia National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts in 2001, Vitkova has gained a wealth of experience working on over 20 national and international productions both as an assistant and a casting director, among them legendary Monty Python member Michael Palin’s New Europe: Eastern Delight, produced for the BBC.
In 2008 she become the executive producer of Kamen Kalev’s award-winning debut Eastern Plays, and a year later she founded her own production company Viktoria Films, favoring stylish independent auteur cinema. The company produced two award winning shorts: Stanka Goes Home and My Tired Father that Vitkova also directed. Both films were made in close script collaboration with Romanian writer/director Radu Jude. Over 150 festivals selected the films and Germany’s KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg acquired the world sales rights.
Her new film Viktoria was shot between May and December 2012 in Sofia and Venice. Vitkova said the story about a girl being born with no umbilical cord “is a story about Bulgaria and Bulgarians… I realized that the idea of a child, born with no umbilical cord - the lack of connection with the mother who gives life - is a clear indication for the loss of connection with the innermost.” The international press said the semi-autobiographic film, dedicated to the last decade of communism and the first decade of the transition period, is “highly poetic and possesses fine personal approach.” Gaining international success before its domestic release in autumn, Viktoria gives a clear idea of Vitkova’s motive for becoming a producer: “to allow an artistic (dash financial) freedom to the director – myself. I’ve decided to take full responsibility; if something doesn’t work, then it’s my fault, and I need to face the consequences of my choices. If it works, it means that it was a wise move and a good choice.”
In response to the question of who is her ideal producer, she quotes Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas: “When you decide to make a film with somebody, you want to make it with that person. Support it 1,000 per cent in that vision. That’s how you make a film."
As to what some of her most admired productions are, Vitkova wishes she could have been “somehow associated with Andrea Arnold’s films, Jessica Hausner’s Lourdes, Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte, Cristi Puiu’s films and Andrei Zvyagintsev’s The Return. ”Regarding domestic production, Vitkova believes “people will make up their minds on Viktoria, when they see the film.”For her it is a story that comes from her heart. Looking ahead, Vitkova sees herself remaining an independent filmmaker.
In Cannes she will introduce her new feature film project Gin Air about 36-year-old Anna and her emotional experiences after a two-year period of translating Joyce’s Ulysses into Bulgarian. Vitkova describes the story “as a dream about a journey to Brazil and a big step to come – becoming a creator.” The film will once again be a Viktoria/Mandragora coproduction.