Warden of the Dead, Bulgaria's candidate for an Oscar nomination by Iliyan Simeonov, is the second serious recognition of a young Bulgarian filmmaker in the last year.
The film was chosen by the newly elected National Film Committee, the official body to the Bulgarian National Film Center, to compete with 62 other countries for one of the five Oscar nominations in the category of foreign-language films.
The nominations for the Oscars will be announced on Jan. 22, and the awards ceremony will take place Feb. 24.
The film was chosen over rivals such as Ivan Cherkelov and Vassil Zhivkov's omnibus Christmas Tree Upside Down, Iglika Trifonova's Inquest, Ilia Kostov's Time for Women and Anry Kulev's Sparrows in October.
This is the second accolade for a young filmmaker after last year's nomination of first-time director Milena Andonova for her triptych Monkeys in Winter. Bulgarian National Television (www.bnt.bg) co-producer of the film (with the NFC-supported Camera of Dimitar Gothcev), broadcast the film in prime time.
Warden of the Dead is Simeonov's second feature, but his repertoire also includes documentaries and TV productions. In 1994 Border,, co-directed with Christian Nochev and co-supported by the French CNC fund, won the "Golden Rose" best debut national award.
Shot by Dimitar Gotchev and featuring well-known actors such as Nikolay Urumov and Valentin Tanev, the film's biggest surprise is 13-year-old Vladimir Georgiev, who was named best actor of the year. His character is a prematurely matured boy living at a big cemetery who knows too much about death.
"I was very pleased to learn that my film, entirely shot with Bulgarian financing, was selected to represent the country at the Academy Awards competition," Simeonov said. "For me this is a happy sign: critics and audiences feel that Warden of the Dead is mostly devoted to life."