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6 Votes (2)
 
Eastern Plays (2009)
Източни пиеси (original title)
Fiction, 83 min
 
Production countries   Bulgaria,Sweden
Languages   Bulgarian,Turkish,English
Director   Kamen Kalev
Scriptwriter   Kamen Kalev
Producer   Kamen Kalev
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Plot
Two brothers who have lost all contact are suddenly brought together when they have opposite roles in a racist beating: while Georgi, who’s recently joined a neo-Nazi group, participates in the violence, Itso witnesses the incident and rescues the Turkish family. Georgi, now being asked to participate in larger-scale acts, starts to question his implication in the movement. For his part, Itso wonders if the beautiful Turkish girl he saved could be his ticket out from his sad life in Sofia. Only by reuniting will the two brothers be able to assess what they really want from life.
Kamen Kalev and Christo Cristov
Kamen Kalev talks about The Real Christo
The idea of making a film about Christo had been on mind for quite some time.
We grew up together in the same town by the sea. And then we lost touch for a long time. A few years ago we ran into each other and had so much to talk about. He didn’t seem to have changed, at least physically; but slowly he began to confide in me and I realized the depths of his despair. The difference between his seemingly peaceful and nonchalant self and his dire inner suffering fascinated me. He had no energy left to confront this destructive force inside.

In the narrative, I used many elements from Christo’s real life; most of the scenes actually happened and were shot in the places he lived: his apartment, his streets, his workplace. His girlfriend Niki was his real life partner. In the beginning, I had no idea who was going to play the character ‘Itso’. I wanted the film to feel almost like a documentary, which then made me realize it would be best for Christo to play himself. It became clear that with an actor the film would lose so many of the unique details which fascinated me about Christo – from his physical presence to his spontaneity and non-conformism.

I offered him the role and he accepted without hesitation. His screen tests were perfect as he remained himself, unfettered by the camera’s presence. From that moment on, I felt energized and ready to trust in the spontaneity of things. The entire crew felt this special energy and we improvised with our surroundings and things that seemed to appear from nowhere. These unforeseen elements gave body and meaning to the movie.

The spiritual liberation of man remains a personal experience. Christo is no longer with us, but I am certain that his soul is free. Christo is dead. His vibrant force in the film was suddenly cut short in real life. I had left quite a few scenes to shoot with him with a reduced crew in the fall. The shots of Itso in the concert scene are from pieces we shot while in preproduction. We came upon the end of the film in the editing room. We had so much more to do together, not just for the film.
Director's Note
Brother and Daughter
The Characters of Georgi, the little brother, and Isil, the turkish girl, are entirely fictional. I wanted to juxtapose Georgi with Itso, in order to observe and understand how confusion and alienation are born.
Family, friends, city and country take part in conditioning human beings, and then these conditioned beings are in constant conflict with the very same environment that conditioned them. What interested me in this comparison was to follow how the little brother became like his older brother. Georgi’s addiction or Neonazi gangs are mere illustrations of the same thing.

I was looking for a way to illustrate Itso’s past, the origin of his suffering, without showing it too directly. The character of Georgi - his 17 year old little brother - illustrates the beginning of Itso’s alienation. Everything surrounding Georgi - his parents, his friends and the city Sofia -  leave him confused. His spiritually handicapped parents only prolong their suffering through their own children. I find the notion of parental responsibility interesting. When the two brothers meet up again, they finally communicate. They see each other as they would looking into a mirror. One looks into the past, the other into the future – yet both are lost and afraid. And the reason the two brothers meet is because of the young Turkish girl, Isil. She speaks of strange things, of souls born again and a world that trembles. She is teeming with a different kind of creative energy.

Itso and Isil’s relationship is unique. I didn’t want them to be physically attracted to each other so that their bond would transform into a typical love story. To me, Isil just had a transformative experience and she needs to share it. Both characters are very open and their positive energy begins to circulate freely. This energy goes beyond nationalities or any other label that people can invent. Many Bulgarians still feel hatred towards our Southern neighbors. Five hundred years of Ottoman rule has weighed heavily. A Turkish girl can easily be poorly perceived.
Anything can be imagined: from the Sultan’s daughter to an illiterate daughter of gastarbeiter (guest-workers) heading to Berlin.
Director's Note (2)
Neo Nazis and Borders
Neonazi movements are not more present in Bulgaria than in any other european country... Intolerance isn`t exclusive to a single country. Intolerance does not only belong to right-wing political forces. All politicians have the same character trait: Hypocrisy.

We are not taught tolerance. Quite to the contrary, people expend enormous amounts of energy to differentiate themselves from others and build boundaries. The main mechanisms of existence are focused on the material aspect of things. We are not taught to look inside ourselves.

What interested me was to show today’s reality - the world is getting smaller and people meet and really reveal themselves - regardless of history and origins. I am not fascinated by one particular country. What does fascinate me is when borders disappear and when different cultures meet. This always brings joy, opening up and enriching the human conscience.
What interests me is how people wake up; how they transform from sleeping robots to beings that love and rejoice at life once again.
 
Technical Specifications Image / Sound
Color / Black & White   Color
Sound format   Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio   1.85:1
Production format   HD
Distribution format   35mm
 
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Eastern Plays on Wikipedia
Eastern Plays - Variety
Eastern Plays - Tokio interview Kalev
Eastern Plays - Tokyo prizes
Eastern Plays - Lux Film Prize
Eastern Plays - Hollywood Reporter
Eastern Plays Film New Europe
Eastern Plays - Cineuropa Oscar
Eastern Plays - Cineuropa Interview Kalev
Eastern Plays - Cineuropa focus
Eastern Plays - Cinema de recherche
 
 
 
 
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