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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Bulgaria / Romania

Svetoslav Ovcharov in early post-production with period drama The Bet

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- The film set in the 1890s shows that the Russian influence on the region has not changed in the last 130 years

Svetoslav Ovcharov in early post-production with period drama The Bet
Ofelia Popii and Zachary Baharov in The Bet

Bulgarian director Svetoslav Ovcharov, who has made a name for himself by directing both period dramas and historical documentaries, as well as by writing recent Bulgarian successes such as Thirst [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Svetla Tsotsorkova
film profile
]
, Sister [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Svetla Tsotsorkova
film profile
]
and Irina [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Martina Apostolova
film profile
]
, is currently in early post-production with the period drama The Bet. The project is being staged by Bulgaria’s Omega Films, represented by producer Svetla Tsotsorkova, and by Romanian outfit Avva Mmix Studio, represented by Andreea Dumitrescu.

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The screenplay, written by Ovcharov, is set in Sofia in the 1890s. The story centres on the power struggle between the Bulgarian prime minister (Zachary Baharov) and a major (Assen Blatechki), who conspires with Russian forces against the PM. The major gets a Romanian woman (Romanian actress Ofelia Popii) involved in this conspiracy, a lady whom both he and the prime minister have been with while living in Bucharest in the past. Soon, the conflict between the two men will spiral into a life-and-death situation.

The budget amounts to circa €618,000. The Bulgarian National Film Center is supporting The Bet with €497,000, with a supplementary €81,000 coming from Bulgarian National Television. The shoot took place over four weeks in January and February in Sofia and in the vicinity of the Bulgarian capital. Vesselin Hristov is the DoP, and supporting characters are played by Deyan Donkov, Stefan Mavrodiev, Valentin Ganev and Ivan Savov.

Producer Svetla Tsotsorkova tells Cineuropa that the production of The Bet was a challenge. “Every film is difficult, but this one was especially difficult. Props, costumes and sets were a challenge, both logistically and financially speaking (buying, building or making them). We were filming in the mountains, outside, and the temperatures were sub-zero all the time,” the producer explains. She also mentions the last day of the shoot, when snow was needed, but unexpectedly warm weather meant that it melted before the team’s eyes. “We had to drive snow with pick-up trucks from the higher parts of the mountain in order to cover the empty ground in the frame,” Tsotsorkova says. Post-production will also be challenging, with the delivery of the film happening as late as “the end of 2022, maybe the beginning of 2023”.

Director Svetoslav Ovcharov says that The Bet is not at all separated from the present. “The film tells the story of a political plot backed by Russia. Alas, the political spheres of influence in which Eastern Europe moves today have not changed in the last hundred years. The ‘for’ or ‘against’ Russia divide continues to determine the politics of parties and entire countries. Just like it was one hundred years ago, friends stand against friends. The Bet is a film about love. Between two men. And one woman. And Bulgaria. About love, which is so powerful that it can only be measured against death.”

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