Contender Zift hailed as best film made after 1989
by Toma Peiu
Bulgaria’s Oscar committee has made its choice: the neo-noir feature Zift [+see also:
film profile] will represent the country in this year’s race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination. The decision comes as no surprise, as it follows a Best Director trophy at the Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) and a nomination for the European Film Academy awards in December.
Zift is also a top contender for the national Golden Rose award of the Varna Film Festival (October 3-9).
Directed by first-timer Javor Gardev, a well-known theatre director, and starring Bulgarian top model Tanya Ilieva, Zift has been called the best Bulgarian picture made after 1989. Acclaimed for “an outstanding blend of action and caustic satire of Bulgaria's totalitarian past of the 1960's”, as jury member Liv Ullmann put it at the MIFF awards ceremony, the film is based on Vladislav Todorov’s eponymous novel and delves deep into Bulgaria’s dark communist past.
Zift follows the trouble a man nicknamed The Moth gets into one wild 60s night, with flashbacks from his false conviction for murder and his release from prison after the establishment of the communist regime in 1944. Shot in black-and-white by experienced cinematographer Emil Hristow (The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner [+see also:
film profile], Under the Same Sky), the picture reconstructs that dark period in an ironic yet powerful manner, using elaborate lighting.
Zift is the first feature from the Sofia-based Miramar production company and was made for under €1m, including financing from the Bulgarian National Film Center and Bulgarian television. Discussions about an American remake are underway, as several overseas producers showed interest in the project at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month.
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