15th ÉCU Film Festival | 2020 
"I have always thought that the style translated the story vibes, - how you, personally as an artist, transcode it into significant and multicultural message."
Nikola Bozadzhiev
 Shibil 
European Dramatic Feature
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Unheard story of a father using his daughter as bait in order to capture an outlaw. A heretofore unseen tale of the love between a fearless brigand and a noble lady with an unexpected ending.

Hi, Nikola thank you for talking to TNC, how are you handling the lockdown?

Hello, the pleasure is truly mine. Right now, after a month and a half spend in Los Angeles, California, now, I am back to my country under full isolation due to the coronavirus measurements that the Bulgarian government had undertook in order to protect the nation from spreading the disease.

I suppose that we are all now under a test. Unfortunately, not a game.

But still, I believe that the fragility that these circumstances has brought to us can be overcome by a single recipe - smiles of hope and world-wide uniting against the difficulties.  

As a filmmaker is this experience providing you with some creative motivations?

Absolutely!

The surreal in which we are now really living gives us the opportunity to think about some themes or problems that have been less mirrored in the recent art or even completely erased from the mass studio productions of the past decade.

Therefore, even as part of our responsibilities to the corona crisis that had occurred worldwide this year, we had to focus our attention on themes that are in true importance to our future existing. Themes as the loss of human values and its purpose in today’s world. The image of the humanity in the modern human. Even the role and desperate significance of the moral as the contemporary test for dedication, rationality and duty.

As part of the creative motives to the actual events today, I start collecting all the positive impressions around the corona virus. As I focus my observations on the power of hope in the people who yesterday had considered them living individually but now are opening up to believe in the values of being together. Again. Evidence can be found in the singing in Italy, the supportive clapping in Bulgaria or the screenings of movies from the window to the other building, making the whole building able watching the film that had happened in more than a single country.

But still the most important mission in front of us all is just beginning. As it happens after every crisis the world’s soul needs art more than ever our recent past. We all need hope. We all need exit and a safe haven where we can escape or where we can be inspired to resist and fight again with life.

As we all know, the most difficult times, give birth to the greatest art.

Your film Shibil has been selected for the 2020 ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what has it meant to you to be part of this unique film festival for independent filmmakers?

ÉCU Film Festival is chance of a life- time for an independent filmmaker as I am. I considered it vital for the progress and development of a international art independent filmmaking community that will enrich the visions of bold and innovative original ways of telling a story in film.

I am more than proud, honoured and thankful for the opportunity that the festival provide to me, my cast and crew as our project becomes a member of the festival multicultural and risk-taking filmmaking society that protects the voice of the artists and gives them the courage and freedom to tell their stories honestly and sincerely.

I am looking forward for the upcoming festival dates with curiosity, enthusiasm and absolute support.

Shibil is your debut feature film, how different was the process making this film compared to you short films? 

Each film follows individual process despite the fact that the rules are well defined from the very beginning and the stake is always high.

To be honest, I follow similar process every time. The difference with each new film comes from the fact that I always try to evolve it somehow.

Usually, I build it up with a new level of curiosity, point of view, action and intention. 

My shorts were much more experimental and “learning by doing” while Shibil was a sort of test that I had to pass.

You have a background in performance through theatre and circus how has this background helped you with how you create your films?

Cinema and circus have a lot in common. Starting from their basic characteristics of high-adrenaline, creativity and fast mind and finishing with the attention to the detail.

I have been a professional juggler during all my teen years, starting at nine. This experience gave me are a combination of discipline, long standing concentration, persistence, emotional and psychological strength and, of course, the knowledge of improvisation. Actually, I associate this blend as a key recipe for being a good filmmaker.

While I developed my memory and cognitive thinking through juggling, I spend a few years of my last teen years, learning and experimenting on stage as assistant scenographer to one of the most prominent scenographer in my country and Europe. This period made me fearless and free about my choices, my understanding of scale and detail and all the tiny pieces of the whole world called vision.

You don’t know what is coming next. I went through the processes of two distinctive crafts that I absolutely love even today. Somehow the acquaintance with those two precise arts introduced me to the depth of cinema, which I not only love but also believe in.

Your film Shibil has been selected for the 2020 ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what has it meant to you to be part of this unique film festival for independent filmmakers?

 

ÉCU Film Festival is chance of a life- time for an independent filmmaker as I am. I considered it vital for the progress and development of an international art independent filmmaking community that will enrich the visions of bold and innovative original ways of telling a story in film.

 

I am more than proud, honoured and thankful for the opportunity that the festival provide to me, my cast and crew as our project becomes a member of the festival multicultural and risk-taking filmmaking society that protects the voice of the artists and gives them the courage and freedom to tell their stories honestly and sincerely.

 

I am looking forward for the upcoming festival dates with curiosity, enthusiasm and absolute support.

Can you tell me a little bit about Shibil, what was the inspiration behind this film? 

 

There are two equally important sparks that drove my inspiration and pursued me to make that movie.The idea behind the film came from my recent observations about the human relationships today, namely the increasing deficit of true love and devotion to the extent that you can risk your life for it. I have found exciting similarity between my idea and the theme of the original short story of Yordan Yovkov. This quite old short story convinced me about the importance of my idea for our future – appraisal of the human values and the power of moral.

 

The second one is much more personal and likely subjective. By the time I commence preparation of the movie, I hadn’t experienced the power of love yet. This made me curious and attracted my attention to the destructive love of Shibil and Rada. The fact that they also had fall in love for first time, made them closer to me. I followed their believes and met their fearless dedication.

 

Then I saw how they envelop in front of me forever. How powerful? How simple and true for each of us? I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to make their world visible for the eyes because it was already visible for the soul and heart.

"ÉCU Film Festival is chance of a life- time for an independent filmmaker as I am."

How important is the collaboration when working on a project like this?

We are all part of a chain to which we are all equally important. It is inevitable.

What was the most challenging part of bringing Shibil to life?

The unpredictability.

We wanted to capture a film of life, a film of nature. We had horses that were equal to the actors and of absolute value to the story. We had four different seasons through which we dealt with nightmarish and magical locations where even a national geographic crew could experience challenge to reach.

Every single moment, every single day and hour we had to hope and believe, working shoulder to shoulder with the nature and to respect its laws of existing.

This was the only possible way of making the fictional world of Shibil both naturalistic and poetic.

Looking back do you think there is anything you would have done differently?

There will be always many things that you want to fix, but it is better to learn from all deficiencies than to complain. And there will be always a new challenge coming to apply the lessons learned.

Regarding the movie itself, I tend to believe that the movies are enigmas. If you change or destroy the true nature of your initial original enigma, the enigmatic power will be lost. Therefore, I think that there is nothing that can be changed in this respect.

The imperfection of us all, and the movie itself, made it somehow alive at the end.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

It comes from the infinity. Films are infinitive. They can be told again with different messages, with different senses, and in different way. It is a form of pure freedom to which every filmmaker dedicates something differently.

But my truest passion is the dedication. 

How much has your style and approach to your films changed since your debut short?

They evolve. They constantly evolve.

I have always thought that the style translated the story vibes, - how you, personally as an artist, transcode it into significant and multicultural message. So, while every story is somehow different and unique, the style of each film will follow the same principle, - follow the story.

My approach is to follow the process and address all the unknowns in the course of the process path. This is how the evolution emerge and likely the lifelong learning. This is how we all become better by doing what we love, isn’t it?

What has been the best piece of advice you have been given when you started out?

Don’t hurry, feel the moment and Carpe diem. Seize it.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer filmmakers about to make their first film?

Yes, absolutely! It will be my honour.

First, believe in yourself and those who inspires you.
Second, share and take care for the audience as you take care for you
Finally, never stop.

I will be honest. Those tips will always serve me.


What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am exploring. I believe that stories come out of deep, patient and passionate individual research.

Actually, for quite a few months, almost years, the theme of ‘dreams’ has moved me more than any other– where? What? Why?  And how?

I don’t know. But I will find out.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Shibil?

I will be very happy if people get some of the courage, pureness, sensibility and the dedication to love that Shibil and Rada embrace in their own fatal ending.  How can they do that? By feeling and believing it.

If the audience has felt these vibes, my hopes are fulfilled.

But I also passionately believe that we can all together address the perception that love is a cliché. Because it is classic, and we all need it. 

We just should all start believing in the life again. 

It is not a matter of ideality; it is a matter of humanity.

© 2020 by The New Current.