Zornitsa Sophia about to wrap Mother in Kenya
- The director’s fourth fiction feature centres on a young woman who is unable to conceive
Four years after releasing her third fiction feature, Voevoda [+see also:
interview: Zornitsa Sophia Popgantcheva
film profile], Bulgarian director Zornitsa Sophia will soon wrap the shoot for her new drama, Mother, in Kenya. The project, inspired by real events, is being staged by the director’s own MQ Pictures, and co-produced by Irena Markovich through Focus Media (Croatia), Marcel Lenz through Ostlicht Filmproduktion (Germany) and Nu Boyana (Bulgaria).
The screenplay, co-written by the director herself and Miglena Dimova-Kumitski, focuses on Elena (Daria Simeonova), a theatre director who struggles to make progress with her career while trying to conceive with her husband, Leon (Leon Lucev). At only 32, Elena unexpectedly reaches the menopause, and her chances of starting a family seem non-existent. But Elena will soon re-direct her energy towards a life-transforming theatre programme for orphans in Bulgaria, and later, she will be invited to implement the same programme in Kenya, discovering that instead of a family of three, she may have gained a much larger one. The story is inspired by a real person who was featured in Sophia’s documentary Modus Vivendi (2007), which showcased seven people who stopped at nothing to follow their dreams.
The budget of Mother amounts to circa €1.1 million. The Bulgarian National Film Center supported the project with €470,000, with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) and MDM Mitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung also among its backers. Krum Rodriguez is the DoP. The production is using many non-professional actors, most of them children, from both Bulgaria and Kenya. The Bulgarian shoot wrapped at the beginning of July, and after a short pause, production moved to Kenya.
Sophia tells Cineuropa that her film switches the perspective from “having a child”, which implies the need for possession, to “being a parent”, where parenthood is seen as a much broader notion. The director also says that she has been fascinated with the real Elena's method “to transform her dream from impossible to possible, and from personal to communal”.
Mentioning that Bulgarian cinema has been mostly male-centric until very recently, the director believes, “It is important now to create a balance. Cinema serves the purpose of helping to understand humankind, and learning more about different people gives perspective and scope to the audience. It is our job as filmmakers to provide depth and profound understanding, so as to balance out the stereotypes and the trends. We also need to watch out for our female protagonists and ensure that they do not adopt the usual characteristics of male behaviour, and we can only do that by being specific, honest and brave.”
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