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Production: Bulgarian Feature Film Wild Strawberries Starts Shooting in July

SOFIA: Tatyana Pandurska will start shooting her debut feature Wild Strawberries on 7 July 2023. The film is inspired by Ekaterina Tomova’s book Forgotten by the Heavens, which is a collection of life stories of centenarians from the Rhodope Mountains, recorded in the 1970s.

The script tells the story of a modern woman, New York architect Daphne Bello, who comes to the Rhodope Mountains to inherit the run-down homestead of a recently deceased Bulgarian grandmother she never knew. Turning her back on grueling deadlines, she meets a quirky local cousin, who’s trying to swindle the property out of her and sell it to a big bottling company for a profit. Unearthing both the unique mineral water spring under her grandma’s land and the traumatic back story of her Bulgarian expat father (who took his own life when she was 14), Daphne finally finds the strength to change her life.

The cast includes Vanina Kondova, Ivan Yurukov, Stella Gancheva, Nikola Pashov, Nikola Dodov, Kiril Kavadarkov, Anna Bankina and Vasil Binev.

Wild Strawberries is a film about the undying wisdom and beauty of nature, and the world of the centenarians in juxtaposition to the debilitating insecurities and traumas of modern people. My imagination exploded with the imagery of the mighty Rhodope Mountains, their divine energy and the centenarians living in their dwindling villages. Our protagonist comes into this mix as the bearer of the global zeitgeist, a western woman thrown into an alien environment where inspiring selfless humanism and petty self-interest live door to door. Her psychological experiences and internal conflicts on the way to self-discovery are the main focus of the story”, director/producer Tatyana Pandurska told FNE.

Pandurska penned the script together with Decho Taralejkov, who is known for Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva’s Glory and The Father, both produced by Abraxas Film and coproduced by the Greek Graal Films.

“I felt that this had to be a film about a character in transition, a career woman who has one day woken up to realise that somewhere down the road she just lost her way, that her life feels empty and she has a desperate need for a change. She’s not only disconnected from her innermost desires and sense of self, related to her father’s suicide and the blank spot of her family history, she’s also obsessed with her perceived failure to find a purpose in life and follow through with it. These deep feelings of inadequacy and disappointment are quite common in modern-day society, in contrast to the centennial Rhodopean Zen. Therefore, the world that she’s coming from would be in stark contrast with the world she’d encounter in the Rhodopes, and deep in her bones she would feel an instant connection to this place”, scriptwriter Decho Taralejkov told FNE.

Tatyana Pandurska is producing through Bulgarian Pandy. The project received a low-budget grant of nearly 300,000 EUR from the Bulgarian National Film Center. Pandy has a preliminary contract with Serbian Corso 2021, presented by Gvozden Djuric and Žanko Tomić, whose participation depends on the minority coproduction results from Film Center Serbia at the end of June 2023. If “Wild strawberries” receives the coproduction grant, the producers plan to move part of the post-production to Serbia. Pandy will also apply for a presale from the Bulgarian National Television as soon as the call for 2023 is announced, and it will be searching for a sales agent in the postproduction stage.

The shooting is planned for a period of 18 days starting on 7 July, 2023. The locations are based in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains: Smolyan and the picturesque villages of Polkovnik Serafimovo and Chokmanovo.

The date of the premiere is set for 2024.

Production Information:

Director Tatyana Pandurska, photo by Emil Gradinarov

Pandy (Bulgaria)
Tatyana Pandurska: t.pandurska@gmail.com

Director: Tatyana Pandurska
Scriptwriter:s Decho Taralezhkov, Tatyana Pandurska
DoP: Stephan Vrachev
Music composer: Angel Simitchiev
Cast: Vanina Kondova, Ivan Yurukov, Stella Gancheva, Nikola Pashov, Nikola Dodov, Kiril Kavadarkov, Anna Bankina, Vasil Binev

Source: Film New Europe