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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Bulgaria / Portugal / Luxembourg

Andrey Paounov in post-production with January


- The helmer’s first feature is an absurdist mystery flick set in the snow-capped mountains of Bulgaria

Andrey Paounov in post-production with January
Samuel Finzi in January

After Kamen Kalev’s February [+see also:
film review
film profile
recently received the Cannes label, the Bulgarian film industry seems determined to cover all the months of the year: Bulgarian director Andrey Paounov is currently in post-production with January, an absurdist mystery set in the snow-capped mountains of the country. The film is being staged by Bulgarian outfit Portokal, with Vanya Rainova serving as producer, in co-production with Portugal’s Terratreme (João Matos) and Luxembourgish firm Tarantula (Élise André and Donato Rotunno).

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The screenplay, written by Alex Barrett and Paounov, follows several men stuck in a lodge in the middle of a snowstorm. One of them has to reach the nearby town, and the next morning he seems to have left, as the tracks from his sleigh are visible in the snow. But then the sleigh returns and the man is not on it...

The film’s budget amounts to €520,000. The Bulgarian National Film Center has supported the project with €205,000. January was shot over 23 days in January and February 2019, in the Sredna Gora mountains. The film’s DoP is Vasco Viana. Samuel Finzi, Iossif Sarchadzhiev, Leonid Yovchev, Zachary Baharov and Svetoslav Stoyanov play the main characters.

Producer Vanya Rainova tells Cineuropa, “It took five years from initial idea to finishing the film.” The difficult production process was riddled with budget gaps and was made even more challenging by the need to shoot at a remote and high-altitude location, with only a few days of real snow.

Director Andrey Paounov says his film “has some of the elements of the classic absurdist approach. The disintegration of language, the failure of communication and eventually the gradual loss of sense are used as dramaturgical tools. But not only that; absurdity is also explored visually. Cinema is inherently surrealistic.”

January will be released domestically in autumn 2021, hopefully after a world premiere at a major film festival.

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