Yana Titova • Director of Dyad
“I wanted to recreate all this continuous chatter that drowns out the important talk about things that really matter”
- The Bulgarian second-time director reveals the concept behind the title of her film, while also sharing insights about her efforts to reflect reality as authentically as possible
In Varna, where the Golden Rose Film Festival for Bulgarian feature films took place from 20-29 September, we sat down to talk to Yana Titova about her thought-provoking coming-of-age drama Dyad [+see also:
interview: Yana Titova
film profile], which won the Best Directing Award and shared the Best Feature Award with Blaga’s Lessons [+see also:
interview: Stephan Komandarev
film profile]. After her notable debut, A Dose of Happiness [+see also:
film profile], which dealt with the issue of drug addiction among adolescents, in Dyad, Titova examines the consequences of absent parents and the dysfunctional education system in Bulgaria.
Cineuropa: What made you choose this title?
Yana Titova: It summarises the overall idea behind the film. I discovered the term “dyad” while writing the scene with the Maths class, which is a turning point for the development of the central character, Dida. And it suited it well, since firstly, it refers to the physical resemblance between Dida and Iva, and secondly, it also emphasises the strong mother-daughter relationship – between Dida and her “virtual” mother, and between Iva and her present mother whose interpersonal communication is, however, quite superficial. In any case, Dyad is a risky title because not many people are familiar with the meaning of the word. At the same time, it is a key concept – when all of Dida’s dyads fall apart, her personality decomposes as well.
Does Dida have a real-life prototype?
She has several prototypes involved in different stories. The pieces of real life that I chose to recreate in the film aim to analyse the motifs behind Dida’s behaviour as an arrogant teenager, as well as the reasons for the tragic final outcome. I wanted the viewers to walk in the character’s shoes, so that they could understand and justify her deeds, while also realising she is actually a victim.
And what inspired this colourful ensemble of characters that convey the atmosphere of social disintegration so accurately?
They were also built up as a result of observations and personal communication with people. It was really important for me that they would speak in the most natural manner possible, using dialects and so on. I wanted to recreate all this continuous chatter that drowns out the important talk about things that really matter; the way people constantly jump from one topic to another and never dare to go deeper. These characters also complement Dida, so that she does not reveal everything about herself on her own, but rather, it happens in an indirect way; their conversations also provide hints about how she perceives herself in this environment which she dominates as a leader, but where she also feels like an outsider. I spent around three weeks in this secondary school in the city of Yambol, where we shot the film, so that I could start differentiating between the everyday situations through the viewpoints of both students and teachers. The goal was also to analyse the impersonal attitude towards adolescents as a result of the obsolete educational system, which is suffocating everyone involved.
Lurking in the background of these processes is the overall corruption of society by the local chalga culture, in which prostitution, for example, is somewhat normalised.
Yes; however, I did not aim to emphasise the culture itself, but rather the environment which directly results from it. It’s a reality shot through with superficiality and the urge for unlimited consumption – all of this is promoted by chalga culture.
You mentioned at the festival that you worked on the film for nine years. Why such a long period?
I wrote the script before making my debut, A Dose of Happiness, but it was difficult to find financing. However, this was good for the film because as fate would have it, we came across Margarita Stoykova and Petra Tsarnorechka, who played the main roles when they were grown up enough to do so. I had this gut feeling that when the right actresses popped up, this would also be the right time to make the film. We found them through casting, although I knew Margarita beforehand but did not consider her suitable for the role. Eventually, she turned my idea about the movie upside down, and she changed it. She had some fleeting experience in television, but this is her first role in cinema, and we rehearsed in earnest with her and Petra for about five months. They put lots of effort in, and I remained very close to them up to a certain point, but then I “abandoned” them so that they could free themselves from my influence. And Margarita had such a strong presence that we changed the final scene because of her powerful monologue, although the script was very much finalised after my participation in the ScripTeast workshop.
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