Stephan Komandarev’s Hello triumphs at Arras Days
- Rounding off his trilogy, the Bulgarian director’s project walks away with the film development grant, while Lina Lužyte’s I Had Nowhere To Go bags a Special Mention
Despite having to cancel the 2020 edition of the event on account of the health crisis, the team of the Arras Film Festival, steered by Nadia Paschetto and Éric Miot, nonetheless decided to uphold (by organising online) the 9th edition of Arras Days, its pitching platform for new projects in development coming courtesy of European filmmakers selected to take part in the wider festival.
The jury, composed of producer Cécile Vacheret (Sedna Films), her counterpart Nicolas Brévière (Local Films) and the author of this text, awarded the only development grant to grace this year’s edition (consisting of €7,500 put forward by the festival itself) to Hello by Bulgaria’s Stephan Komandarev, "a project which follows on from Directions [+see also:
interview: Stephan Komandarev
film profile] and Rounds [+see also:
interview: Stephan Komandarev
film profile] to complete the filmmaker’s trilogy about the economic and moral crisis oppressing modern-day Bulgaria, which is explored via the edifying journey of a retired teacher who’s conned and sucked into a terrible downwards spiral, resulting in a work that’s part thriller, part psychological portrait."
Written by the director together with Simeon Ventsislavov, Hello’s story revolves around Blaga, a 70-year-old retired teacher who falls victim to a telephone scam and loses all her savings, notably the funds she’d put aside for a tombstone for her recently deceased husband. In order to claw back her money, and as a result of a string of circumstances relating to the police inquiry, Blaga makes contact with the con artists in question and starts to work for them as a mule. Little by little, this resilient and honest woman begins to sacrifice her moral values… It’s a story which will see Stephan Komandarev continue his portrait of modern-day Bulgaria, this time tackling the topic of retired folk who are left to live out a humiliating life, characterised by day-to-day survival and loneliness, against the backdrop of the total moral crisis weaving its way through society as a whole.
The Arras Days jury also awarded a Special Mention to I Had Nowhere To Go by Lithuania’s Lina Lužyte (who recently drew attention with her fiction feature The Castle [+see also:
film profile]), describing it as "an ambitious creative documentary project about Jonas Mekas’s youth, before he became a world renowned figure in the world of underground cinema. A film which will reconstruct an epic journey from Lithuania to New York, incorporating footage taken from the artist’s immense personal archives".
(Translated from French)
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