Buffer Zone: Dreaming about film
by David González
- Seasoned Bulgarian director Georgi Djulgerov delves into the cinema myth of filming dreams through a broken man’s perception
“Talking about dreams is like talking about movies, since film uses the language of dreams; years can pass by in seconds and you can jump from one image to another,” Federico Fellini once said. The Italian maestro also kept a dream diary, in which he tried to get close to the subconscious every time he opened his eyes. Twenty-two years after his death, seasoned Bulgarian director Georgi Djulgerov (Silver Bear in Berlin in 1977 for Ventaja), takes both guiding principles in order to delve into that inextricable world that occupies the back of our mind in Buffer Zone [+see also:
Screened recently at the Sofia International Film Festival, the movie builds a kaleidoscope through the protagonist’s broken mind (and perception). Todor Cherkezov (Rousy Chanev) is an experienced film director who has just been in a traffic accident in which he lost his wife Irina (Stefka Yanorova). His despair, rather than bogging him down in tragedy, forces him to seek refuge in his dreams, in the only thing that’s his and that no-one can take away from him. Shown as episodes, these glimpses into the subconscious seemingly lack, a guiding thread (do dreams even have one?). In the first, a couple of youths, Todor and Irina experience their mutual sexual attraction collide with the former’s family memories (particularly, of his mother), in a dark apartment. In the second, Todor, grown up now, finds himself on the balcony of his home with a young girl who insinuates to him that they can enjoy the sweetness of adultery. In the third, Irina pretends to abandon him, so he embarks on a journey into his past in phantasmagorical lands. In the fourth, his wife saves him from a sure death in a kind of post-apocalyptic Bulgaria controlled by a strict regime. In the fifth, Todor visits a strange cabin in which the elders try to decide what the best moment of his life was, the same in which he decides to stay by sacrificing himself for the young girl whom he taught. And in the sixth, Todor strolls around a strange purgatory, where he tries to come to an agreement with his past. That difficult agreement is the only one with which, one can accept one’s present.
That present, in which Todor leaves his home to travel to Greece in a car driven first by his son-in-law and later by his daughter’s French friend, fragments Djulgerov with the wonderful images from his dreams. The director works on creating a tribute to the great European directors of the subconscious: Ingmar Bergman in the conversation with the mother, Andrei Tarkovsky in the cabin in genuine Stalker- style or Fellini in his reencounters with the characters of his youth. Without exaggerating, there also seem to be references to some of his contemporary filmmakers, like Theo Angelopoulos (in the journey in the fog through the Balkans), Roy Andersson (the representation of purgatory) and also Julian Schnabel from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (in the protagonist’s biased visual perception). Djulgerov makes his direction an instrument through which he can be clear, by including quotes from the directors themselves in his images; something that seems unnecessary, and that, undoubtedly, gives it all an aura that’s as both a compromise and naive. Nevertheless, those images are fantastically reproduced, with a poetic photography that’s the work of Georgi Chelebiev and remarkable cinematographic moments. Although Buffer Zone, produced by Front Film, makes him give up his own idea in order to achieve something real, Djulgerov is capable of drawing a praiseworthy ode to dreams and, at the same time, to cinema, or better yet, to the dreams of cinema.
(Translated from Spanish)
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