PRODUCTION: Bulgarian/Hungarian Axis of Life Qualifies for Newly Launched Cash Rebate in Bulgaria

    Axis of Life by Atanas Hristoskov Axis of Life by Atanas Hristoskov courtesy of Invictus

    SOFIA: The privately financed Bulgarian/Hungarian Axis of Life directed by Atanas Hristoskov and produced by Invictus in coproduction with the Ganges Indian-Hungarian Cultural Foundation, is one of the first productions approved for cash rebate in Bulgaria since the country launched its cash rebate scheme in January 2022. The project expects to receive over 100,000 EUR, which is 25% of the qualification costs during the shooting in Bulgaria in the early autumn of 2022.

    The highly spiritual film is deeply inspired by the book under the same name by Hindu monk and university professor Swami Tirtha, who was born in Hungary under the name of Geza Racz.  A few years ago, like-minded Tirtha devotees chose Teodora Markova, Nevena Kertova and Georgi Ivanov to write the script. The successful Bulgarian trio worked closely with Tirtha, who did not interfere at all. His only concern was that the authors avoid any religious bias and seek spirituality beyond time. As a result, the script managed to shape a contemporary parable about overcoming weaknesses and fear.

    “The book is a collection of speeches about the philosophy of each of the four main characters on their way to perfection. The literary form gave us freedom and the action itself seemed to guide us“, Teodora Markova told FNE. “What we had were three disciples and their spiritual guide, the master. Traveling on a pilgrimage, at the end of which he has to initiate one of them to succeed him. Our task was to find the bet that would guide the master in making the most difficult choice”, Markova added.

    Director Atanas Hristoskov joined the project after the completion of the script. “In 2020 I travelled to India, where I met Victor Francess, one of Tirtha’s closest followers. Personally, after my 2016 sophomore feature 18, produced by Incoms Project, I decided to step away from cinema for a while. However, after meeting Swami Tirtha I became enlightened by his extraordinary personality. So, I decided to seize thе opportunity and make a film that goes beyond conventional norms”, Hristoskov told FNE. 

    The film was shot in English and it features actors Clive Russell from Scotland, Lars Simonsen from Denmark, Marina Suma from Italy and Strezo Stamatovski from North Macedonia. The Bulgarian stars are Alexander Aleksiev and Vladimir Mihailov. Martin Balkanski is the DoP.

    In the year leading up to the shooting, a small team including Hristoskov and Balkanski travelled to different countries to look for suitable locations. Finally, the more than 20 outstanding natural features were mainly found in Bulgaria in the Lepenitsa and Prokhodna Caves, in various majestic mountainous areas near the towns of Vratsa, Smolyan, Momchilgrad, Irakli and on the world-famous Belogradchik Rocks. Turkey’s Cappadocia also became a highlight filming location.

    “During the shooting we all lived in a magical feeling. The collective energy of the team exceeded anything I had imagined. For me this film is a return to cinema that deals with the big themes of life and death,” Hristoskov also said.

    Kalinov Brothers are producing through Invictus in coproduction with Victor Francess through the Ganges Indian-Hungarian Cultural Foundation. The fundraising of the budget of nearly 800,000 EUR was done in more than two years with the active participation of the followers of Swami Tirtha and many other people who believe in his teachings. 

    “I can't wait to start editing. The pacing will be slow and calm and for sure, the film will be meditative. I will also leave room for audience awareness,” Hristoskov concluded.

    Production information:

    Invictus Ltd. (Bulgaria)
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    Ganges Indian-Hungarian Cultural Foundation (Hungary)

    Director: Atanas Hristoskov
    Scriptwriters: Teodora Markova, Nevena Kertova, Georgi Ivanov
    DoP: Martin Balkanski
    Production designer: Maria Koicheva
    Cast: Clive Russell, Lars Simonsen, Alexander Aleksiev, Vladimir Mihailov, Strezo Stamatovski, Marina Suma