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SOFIA 2015

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Corpse Collector: comedy of death


- The debut feature by Dimitar Dimitrov tinkers among genres to laugh at death, until it becomes an inevitable and serious romantic drama

Corpse Collector: comedy of death
Stefan Shterev and Stoyan Radev in Corpse Collector

From the first minutes of the feature Corpse Collector [+see also:
film profile
, debut work by Bulgarian director Dimitar Dimitrov, we see a merry genre turnout. The initial scene portrays Itzo (Stoyan Radev) dragging along some bodies that he has to bring to the morgue, shrouded in terror. Soon after, we observe a few shady characters trying to make a murder look like a traffic accident, like a thriller. And then, we see Itzo and his work colleagues, the gypsy Avera (Stefan Shterev), discussing whether you should or shouldn’t rob the clothes and jewels of the dead, like a comedy. The emerging director thus illustrates quickly the three parallel paths that guide his movie; a Special Mention in the Bulgarian section of the recent Sofia International Film Festival (read the news). These paths continue, zig-zagging, until love interjects... along with what could be called its final product: death. Death is also what gets the film started: something so serious that it’s actually really funny.

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Corpse Collector follows the path travelled by both workers, between dark humour (mixing up the living with the dead) and a devastating social drama (that involves the rape of Avera’s daughter). In it, Itzo becomes acquainted with love: he evades his thoughtful work colleague, Mimi (Lydia Indjova), to replace her with Katya (Teodora Duhovnikova), a tormented, complicated and cruel woman, the lover of Rocco, a gangster (Mihail Bilalov) who gets killed early on the road. In the midst of this confusion, Itzo abandons himself to a most ridiculous situation (Katya demands a medical certificate that proves that he has no diseases before their first sexual encounter), paving the way for a complex psychology that’s portrayed wonderfully by Radev. The convoluted path between genres also develops on the character level: Itzo’s new lover resembles the memory of his strict mother, and his personality unfolds as both his romance and his wanderings lead him to unimaginable (moral) places. Until, after all of these, we arrive at the most commonplace, the inevitable and serious, and quasi lowbrow in narrative terms point, where loose ends get tied up so that suffering can make way for love.

Corpse Collector, produced by Bulgarian outfit Magic Shop, fiddles with all of these instruments: its mise-en-scene halfway between the three aforementioned genres keeps with the different sensations awakened by Itzo’s and Katya’s (and Mimi's) story. Dimitrov does this with a unique style, portraying it through the accomplished photography of Boris Slavkov, full of lens flares that are colourful and at the same time metallic, just like Radev’s piercing eyes. These eyes succeed in seeing before them the ridiculous side of seriousness, of love and, also, the funny side of death.

(Translated from Spanish)

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