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Ivaylo Penchev in post-produzione con la tragicommedia corale Uncle Christmas


- Questo film di produzione interamente bulgara segue diversi personaggi che sono sopraffatti dallo spirito natalizio

Ivaylo Penchev in post-produzione con la tragicommedia corale Uncle Christmas
Philip Avramov e Lyuben Chatalov in Uncle Christmas

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After a string of popular comedies, the most recent of which being Last Call (winner of the Audience Award at the 2020 Golden Rose Film Festival), Bulgarian director Ivaylo Penchev is in early post-production with his new ensemble tragicomedy, Uncle Christmas. The film is being staged by Penchev’s Cinemaq, in co-production with Bulgarian outfit Urban Media, represented by Stoyan Stoyanov. The team hopes it will be able to release the film in December.

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The screenplay, written by Bozhan Petrov, Penchev and Vesel Tsankov, centres on various characters – for example, a man working as Santa Claus, a girl dreaming of walking again and a waitress caring for her ill mother – who get involved in various tragicomic situations as they go off in pursuit of what they crave most, be it family, identity, forgiveness, love, compassion or friendship.

Uncle Christmas has a budget of circa €650,000, with approximately €480,000 coming from the Bulgarian National Film Center. The film’s DoP is Georgi Chelebiev, and the main characters are played by Philip Avramov, Malin Krastev, Simona Halacheva, Vasil Banov, Stefan Denolyubov, Svezhen Mladenov, Milena Avramova and Lyuben Chatalov. The film was shot in Sofia in December and January, but as the story needed snow in a snowless winter, it wasn’t able to wrap the 36-day shoot until February.

Director Ivaylo Penchev tells Cineuropa that the shoot was especially stressful as the entire team was worried about having a positive COVID-19 case in their midst. “Unfortunately, this happened, and we had to take a 14-day break. This naturally led to the re-scheduling of the entire shoot and to additional production costs. The number of shooting days for the actors increased, and then we had to change locations due to the closure of commercial sites [where the film was supposed to be shot] and hire an additional team to cut off traffic on the streets. In addition, we had to carry out daily disinfection of shooting sites before and after work, and all of these extra costs were incurred without any compensation,” the director explains.

We also asked producer Stoyan Stoyanov about his previous collaboration with Penchev, the possible audience darling Last Call, which stars Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian actress who received Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for her appearance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, instantly becoming the talk of the entire country. According to Stoyanov, Last Call will wait for times when cinemas can be open at full, or at least 50%, capacity. After being closed for two weeks in March, movie theatres have recently re-opened at 30% capacity.

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