Recensione: Shakespeare Like a Street Dog
- Il secondo lungometraggio di Valeri Iordanov, immerso nell'ambiente selvaggio di un ghetto rom in Bulgaria, cerca i punti di contatto tra il talento artistico e l'arte e della sopravvivenza
Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.
The opening scene of Shakespeare Like a Street Dog raises a question: are we witnessing a police interrogation, or an acting audition? Some interfering sequences showing a bank robbery hint at the former, but the spotlights over the heads of the adolescents being interrogated and a mention of Shakespeare confirm the latter. Oppositions and counterpoints – such as a fight scene set to the voice of a narrator reading excerpts from Bulgarian literary classics – are repeated tricks used throughout the whole film. This approach emphasises the conflicted nature of the characters, oscillating between the swamp of existence and the flight of the spirit.
Seven years after his debut Sneakers, co-directed with Ivan Vladimirov and focused on harsh urban reality escapees by the seaside, Valeri Iordanov once again zooms in on young outsiders, inspired by his own past as a street boy attracted to both boxing and theatre. The film won five well deserved awards at the recently wrapped 40th Golden Rose Film Festival, including Best Directing, Best Screenplay and Best Acting, making it one of the Bulgarian industry’s notable events this year.
The main character Danko (Vladislav Stoimenov), nicknamed Sheky (short for Shakespeare) due to a passion for reading considered unusual in the ghetto, is seen at first as a tender soul with a hot temper. Abandoned by his mother, he was adopted by the respectable Chavo (Zahari Baharov), a slum chieftain whose main hobby is to give orders and swear while drinking his daily dose of alcohol, and to protect his wards. Together with his stepbrother Itso (Vasil Iliev) and stepsister Eli (Eleonora Ivanova), Sheky hangs out in school and fist-fighting terrains where all seems to be achievable. Until the day, that is, when they find out about Chavo’s serious illness, which throws all of their ideas about life into question and pushes them to use their innate artistry and imagination, in order to try and outrun destiny.
The fragmented and flashbacks-heavy narrative, built up as a circular structure, is invisibly led by Sheky’s voiceover narration, and all events are therefore reflected through his highly subjective point of view. On the other hand, director of photography Boris Slavkov’s dynamic camera stalks characters from behind or from above, creating a distanced look which suggests that final decisions will be taken from afar, since destiny always has the final word.
Defined by the director himself as an “action-dramedy,” this energetic and intriguingly titled film digs into the bowels of the margins in order to reveal talents buried under destitution. Thanks to the fresh input of casting discoveries Stoimenov, Iliev and Ivanova, Shakespeare Like a Street Dog authentically portrays a fierce reality through the lenses of unyielding dreamers — both the director’s, and his characters’. It therefore takes the shape of a musing suburban tale and melts real-life cruelty into a pot where the mundanity of adult life and the excitement of adolescent fantasy boil together in the same water.
Shakespeare Like a Street Dog was produced by Chouchkov Brothers and co-produced by Concept Studio, Menclips, Jeng Studio, Magic Shop, and SIF 309.
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