Some of the most provocative and curious titles from all over the world are included in the Documentary Competition of the Sofia Film Festival in 2023; among them are "A Provincial Hospital" by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, and Zlatina Teneva, which premiered in the competition program in Karlovy Vary, where it won the Ecumenical Jury Award, and the latest work by Nikola Boshnakov and Georgi Stoev - Jackie - "My Uncle Luben".
"A Provincial Hospital" is devoted to Covid-life in the hospital in Kyustendil. Although jokes are heard in the corridors, death is near. Many patients live in constant fear that they will deteriorate quickly and be sent "upstairs" to intensive care. The steady stream of cases with complications is monitored and controlled by Dr. Popov. Tall, good-natured, and warm-hearted, he greets some of the patients with a witty dictum, others with a quote from Kant, and amidst the quiet terror of the hospital he envelops everyone with human warmth... The Bulgarian-German co-production team spent more than 70 days in the coronavirus ward to make this film. "Looking at the situation in an ordinary Bulgarian hospital is an attempt to draw attention to the country's underdeveloped and underfunded healthcare system and to document people's reactions when confronted with an unknown threat through filmed situations," say the authors.
Ilian Metev is well-known to Bulgarian audiences for his feature film debut "3/4", which won the prestigious Golden Leopard in the Directors of the Present competition in Locarno in 2017, and the following year he was awarded the Sofia City of Cinema Grand Prize for Best Film at the 22nd Sofia International Film Festival. His documentary "Sofia's Last Ambulance" premiered at Critics' Week in Cannes 2012, and a few months later won the Best Documentary prize in Karlovy Vary. "A Provincial Hospital is the debut film of Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva. It was produced by Martichka Bozhilova, Agitprop, whose filmography includes works such as "George and the Butterflies", "The Problem with Mosquitoes and Other Stories", and "Corridor No. 8". She also co-produced the Romanian film "Touch Me Not", awarded with the Golden Bear at the 2018 Berlinale.
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The film directed by Nikola Boshnakov and Jackie Stoev, with which they are participating in the Documentary Competition, is titled "My Uncle Luben". The protagonist of the film is Ray van Zetschau, frontman of the legendary German rock band Freunde der Italienischen Oper (Friends of the Italian Opera), whose Bulgarian uncle is the artist Lyuben Stoev, brother of his father - the director Jackie Stoev. Ray travels to Sofia to sell his uncle's inherited apartment after his death, but the artist's home is filled with paintings, installations, stories, and videos. And Ray - piece by piece, like in a puzzle or a crime film, arranges for himself and for the viewer the image of his Bulgarian uncle - as an artist and a person... The nephew follows his uncle on video trips to Africa, India, and Cuba, descending to the bottom of Bulgarian society, where Luben has always found themes and inspiration. In this journey, Ray introduces the audience to his father, to the artist's great love in Dresden, and to the spirit of Luben himself, as together we sing Brecht and Weill's "Soft Knives"... My Uncle Luben is a fascinating film, colorful, liberated, eclectic, beyond time, space, and limitations, funny, thought-provoking, and impressive as the personality of the artist Luben Stoev.
Nikola Boshnakov was born in 1977. After graduating from high school, he took a job at the Machine Tool Plant, workshop "Second Paint"; then he sold newspapers in Sofia for a while, did military service in a border detachment in Dragoman in 1997, graduated in film directing from the NBU in 2006, where he and Mitko Taralezhkov and Oleg Konstantinov became "Bidon Film". His documentaries include "Lifestyle "(2004), "The Altangiers Are Coming "(2006), and "Jackie, Johnny, and Charlie Are Not Dog Names" (2010). Jackie Stoev has for years been universally recognized as one of the great cheschits in Bulgarian cinema. His talent, curiosity, and tireless sense of humor are at the heart of all his projects. Among his better-known films are "Life in the Belly of a Cow "(1977), "Rituals of Love" (1977), "Few Days" (1977), "Itzko" (1983), "Father Ivan and His Children" (Golden Riton 2010), as well as the feature films "Our Shoshkanini" (1982), "The Adventuress of Spas and Nelly" (1987), "Fly with Rosinante" (2007).
"My Uncle Luben", a co-production between Bulgaria and Germany, starring Ray van Zeschau, Jackie Stoev, Johnny Penkov, and other colorful characters, the screenwriter is Ivaylo Manev, cinematographer - Tony Stoev, and the producers are Kiril Kirilov and Galina Toneva (Gala Film), whose filmography includes one of the most watched Bulgarian films of 2022 - "Escape", as well as films such as "The Adventurer", "Deserters", "Stolen Eyes" and "East-West" with a nomination for a foreign language Oscar. Co-produced by Four Elements (Bulgaria), and Ray van Zeschau (Germany).
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