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Last Call to try to lure Bulgarian audiences back to cinemas


- Ivaylo Penchev's ensemble comedy was selected for this year's Sofia Meetings Works in Progress, and its theatrical release is planned for October or November

Last Call to try to lure Bulgarian audiences back to cinemas
Vasil Banov and Maria Bakalova in Last Call

Ivaylo Penchev, the Bulgarian director who has specialised in ensemble comedies, has almost finished his third feature, Last Call. The comedy tells the story of various characters discovering the meaning of life, and is being staged by Urban Media and producer Stoyan Stoyanov. It was selected for this year's Sofia Meetings Works in Progress.

Penchev goes back to his favourite setting, the Bulgarian shore of the Black Sea, to unfurl a story that starts with Nikola (Vasil Banov, from Stephan Komandarev's Directions [+see also:
film review
interview: Stephan Komandarev
film profile
), a 70-year-old writer determined to kill himself by jumping from a high bridge. At the very last moment, he notices a young girl (Maria Bakalova) on the verge of ending her life in the same way. The elderly man becomes obsessed with helping his young protégée find reasons to live, but his good intentions will soon start to backfire.

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The project's budget amounts to €610,000, with as much as €480,000 being provided by the Bulgarian National Film Center. Last Call was shot last year over four weeks in and around the seaside village of Sinemorets and in Sofia. The screenplay was written by Bozhan Petrov, Penchev and Vesel Tsankov. Phillip Avramov, Malin Krastev, Anton Radichev and Stefan Denolyubov play other significant parts in this ensemble film.

Director Penchev explains his approach to comedy to Cineuropa: "The different groups of people in my films provide a 'snapshot' of the entirety of society. [...] The goal of a good comedy, in my opinion, is for as many people as possible to recognise themselves in the characters and be able to laugh at themselves – and, if possible, think about what the important and essential things are in their lives."

As for producer Stoyan Stoyanov, he says that Last Call is a comedy, but its purpose is not only entertainment, as "significant themes are explored between the lines". The plan is to release the film in Bulgaria in October or November, depending on the consequences of the health crisis.

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