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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Finland / Bulgaria

Tonislav Hristov shoots his fiction debut, The Good Driver


- The drama is inspired by a character in Hristov’s previous documentary The Good Postman

Tonislav Hristov shoots his fiction debut, The Good Driver
Malin Krustev in The Good Driver

With a host of documentaries under his belt, including the very well-travelled The Good Postman [+see also:
film review
film profile
, Helsinki-based Bulgarian director Tonislav Hristov is currently in the middle of the shoot for his first fiction feature, The Good Driver. The new feature is being staged by Finnish production company Making Movies Oy, represented by Kaarle Aho, and by Hristov’s Soul Food (Bulgaria). The project was presented at the 2021 Sofia Meetings as a work in progress and is currently looking for new production partners in order to cover post-production.

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The screenplay is written by Aho, Hristov and Bulgarian director-screenwriter Konstantin Bojanov, and it is based on a character from The Good Postman: Hristov tells Cineuropa that the fiction is a “thematic sequel” to the documentary. The protagonist is Ivan, a Bulgarian taxi driver working and living in the Golden Sands seaside resort, slowly saving money in order to go back to Finland – where he used to live with his ex-wife – and make amends for his past mistakes.

The film’s budget amounts to circa €1 million. The project was supported by the Finnish Film Foundation with €300,000 and by the Bulgarian National Film Center to the tune of €127,000. Eurimages is also supporting the feature.

The first part of the shoot took place last November in Golyam Dervent, the village we explored in The Good Postman, moving to Sofia in March. Hristov will shoot in the Golden Sands resort in June and July, and in Helsinki in August. The film’s DoP is Orlin Ruevski. The main characters are played by Malin Krustev, Gerasim Georgiev and Slava Doytcheva (who is also making a name for herself as a director).

Hristov says that his film “asks questions about belonging to a community and how we identify with this community, about personal responsibility and about to what extent the situation we find ourselves in is the result of our personal doings. The focal point of the story is the tension between my main character’s anxiety from his past life and the reality that he lives in.

“At the core of the story is Ivan’s longing. We see it on the surface as his longing for his family in Finland. But what he’s actually longing for is the past; his past when the world seemed to be his for the taking and his mistakes were few. Someone would maybe call this nostalgia, but I’m not sure if that’s the correct word here. Maybe he’s longing for a world that was easier to understand, that seemed to be whole. A simpler world where it was easier for men like him to carve out a place for themselves,” the director explains.

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