Holidaymakers has the makings of a box-office hit
by Stefan Dobroiu
- Ivaylo Penchev’s comedy will greet its domestic audience in October, following its first screening at the Golden Rose Film Festival
It may be a little bit too long for its own good, but Ivaylo Penchev’s comedy, Holidaymakers, has a generous array of tools to both entertain and move its audience, and the cheering moviegoers of the Golden Rose Film Festival (September 19-25, Varna, Bulgaria) are living proof. Sporting an endearing ensemble of actors, Holidaymakers can become what Bulgarian cinema is desperately crying out for: not awards, of which it has been winning plenty, but a box-office hit.
Holidaymakers shows Bulgaria at its best, portraying a holiday in a picturesque village on the coast of the Black Sea. It is not easy to convincingly combine several stories featuring a myriad of characters of different ages, but the screenplay, written by Penchev, Bojan Petrov and Vesel Tzankov, pulls it off, exploring several topics that may be of interest, not only to the domestic audience, but also to foreign festivals looking for comedies with regional flavour.
Kitodar Todorov plays Anton, a banker who hopes that a few days at the seaside will improve his strained relationship with Lili (Milena Avramova), his beautiful wife who is disillusioned by boredom and her suspicions of infidelity. Other characters soon arrive at the cosy family hotel the couple has chosen for their holiday. Among them are Veska (Aneta Sotirova), an ageing landlady accompanied by her best friend, and Niki (Ivaylo Dragiev), a young man obsessed with Steve Jobs and getting rich quickly. While being taken care of (or swindled) by the hotel’s welcoming owners, these characters will interact with others in a series of amusing and unpredictable adventures and misadventures.
Holidaymakers harks back to a long tradition of family comedies in Bulgarian cinema. Interestingly, the Bulgarian National Film Center, the organiser of Golden Rose Film Festival, programmed Dimitar Petrov’s highly popular Vacation with Kids (1972) in a new sidebar, Cinema by the Sea, which screened movies by popular request. Both Holidaymakers and Vacation with Kids explore similar topics, but while the latter is more interested in love, friendship and the conflict between generations, the former updates the topics, discussing financial crises, homosexuality and shady politics. It is indeed a picture of today’s Bulgaria and one that can be easily recognised, and thoroughly enjoyed, by local audiences.
Todorov and Sotirova play their characters with much gusto, but the screenplay lets many other actors steal the limelight for a few minutes. Stanimir Gamov, for example, plays a doctor with something to say about Anton and Lili’s relationship, while Philip Abramov is the local mayor. A gay character, played by Svezhen Mladenov, highlights even more strongly that Holidaymakers is a film made for a contemporary audience.
Produced by Urban Media with significant support from the Bulgarian National Film Center, Holidaymakers is set for domestic release on October 7.