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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Bulgaria

Ivan Vladimirov’s period drama Plague enters into post-production

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- With a screenplay written before the COVID-19 pandemic, the film centers on a 19th century plague

Ivan Vladimirov’s period drama Plague enters into post-production
A moment from the shoot of Plague

After co-directing Sneakers, which won a Special Mention at the 2011 Moscow International Film Festival in 2011, as well as releasing Scenes from the Life of an Actress in 2020, Bulgarian director Ivan Vladimirov has recently wrapped production on Plague, a period drama produced by Miramar Film and represented by Ilian Djevelekov, Matey Konstantinov and Georgi Dimitrov (the latter also being the film’s production designer alongside Vladimir Shishkov).

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Based on the short story “Through the Plague” written by classic Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov, Boyan Biolchev’s screenplay, which was penned long before the COVID-19 pandemic, follows various events happening at the beginning of the 19th century, when a mysterious plague brings out the good and evil in various characters who find themselves in extreme situations. The main characters are a father and son hailing from a wealthy family who return from a pilgrimage abroad, only to find their country and village ravaged by the titular plague. The two protagonists react in their own way to the situation, whilst trying to uphold their basic human values.

The film’s budget amounts to roughly €640,000, with approximately €480,000 coming from the Bulgarian National Film Centre. The shoot unfolded over 25 days in June and July, in two villages near Sofia. One part of the shoot took place in Bulgaria’s biggest film studio, Nu Boyana, in which an Ottoman Empire caravanserai was recreated. The film’s DoP is Rumen Vasilev (Danny. Legend. God. [+see also:
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), while its actors include Svejen Mladenov, Matey Michev, Evelina Bibova, Ludmila Slaneva, Dobrin Dosev, Velislav Pavlov and Lyubomir Bachvarov.

We asked Ilian Djevelekov how it was possible to shoot a period drama on such a small budget, when the average European film set in the 19th century can cost ten times more. “Even though it is a period piece, a minimalist approach could already be felt in the script. The film is more about the personal stories of the characters and the psychological dimensions of the plague. (…) However, we believe our viewers will see high production value on-screen, because we worked with experienced crew members for set construction, costumes, horse stunts and so on,” the producer explained.

The director stressed that the screenplay was indeed written before the pandemic: “None of those involved in the project imagined that the fictional events and relationships in our story would materialize in the real world. The superstitions, fears and aspirations of characters from a bygone era were confirmed by the actions of modern people. The lack of knowledge about the disease and the unreasonable attitude towards it already existed in the script. In those difficult months, the most important thing for me was keeping my family safe. I believe that for the majority of people in the Balkans, survival and the continuation of the family remain the most important goals to this day. For us, failure to achieve these goals is a real tragedy. This is also the main theme in Plague, and the pandemic made it even more visible and easier to articulate,” the director explained.

The film team expect post-production to wrap in the first half of 2023. Plans for domestic release are loosely being made for autumn 2023 through Miramar, though the team is already sure the film will enjoy a cinema release as wide-ranging as their previous hit, Omnipresent [+see also:
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by Ilian Djevelekov.

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