Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Interview with Angela Nestorovska and Vladimir Anastasov-Vac, film producers: Nothing without a good script

The Bulgarian-Macedonian co-production “Directions”, from the director Stefan Komandarev and the the cinematographer Veselin Hristov, which opened the 38th edition of ICFF “Manaki Brothers” in Bitola, is the first screened film in the main competition. “Directions” is a road-movie with a story from the Bulgarian society (Simeon Vencislavov and Stefan Komandarev are the scriptwriters), which starts with the murder of a banker. The murderer is an owner of a small business who drives a taxi, while his act of committing murder sparks a national debate on a night radio program. The film follows the stories of six taxi-drivers and their passengers in the course of one night…

“Directions” had its world premiere in May, at the prestigious section “Un certain regard”, part of the Cannes Film Festival’s official selection. The interesting thing is that the Macedonian premiere of the film happened before the premiere in Bulgaria. “Directions” is considered a low-budget production, with a budget of 600.000 euros.

The Macedonian co-producers of “Directions” are Vladimir Anastasov-Vac and Angela Nestorovska from “Sektor Film”. This is their second collaboration with Komandarev, after “The Judgment” (2004), which won 12 awards and was the Bulgarian representative in the Oscar competition for Best Foreign Film.

Why did you want to co-produce this particular film?

Nestorovska: Our production house receives film scripts from authors from several countries very frequently; when we read Vencislavov’s script, we thought that the story was very interesting. Although the action happens in Sofia, Bulgaria, there are a lot of similarities with the situations in the countries from the region, including Macedonia. The story is not rendered identically, but there are a lot of similarities. The way this story was presented, in a fragmentary manner, was very challenging for us. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to attend the shooting of the film, which was made with long shots in motion, with a handheld camera, most often in the inside of the taxi-vehicle. When we had the opportunity to see the first version of the film, it was a surprise for me: this is one of the rare projects when the film itself is much better than the script.

This is “Sektor Film’s” second collaboration with Komandarev. How much do the producers want to build long-time tandem collaborations?

Anastasov: I want to collaborate with authors that I like, authors who have great communication with our production house. I want to nurture those relations, such as this second collaboration with Stefan Komandarev. This was happening, and is still happening, with the Serbian director Srgjan Dragoevic: we are planning and developing two feature films together. I hope for more long-time collaborations from that kind with Macedonian directors as well; at the moment we are working on it. That is the style of our production house – we believe in the author!

Do you feel a kind of envy that films like “Directions” are not being filmed in Macedonia as well?

Anastasov: Yes, yes, Angela’s friends said precisely that… that they feel envious that “Directions” is not a Macedonian film…

Nestorovska: Two of my friends after the screening told me that it is nice to see our names as co-producers of such a film, but they would like to see us signed as producers on a Macedonian film in this style, as well. In spite of the closeness of the theme and the story, the feeling is different when you hear the Macedonian language in the film. We hope that in the future we will do such a project…

The success of the formula of the New Romanian Cinema Wave is apparent – the same formula is used and adapted according to the Bulgarian context in “Directions”. What is the formula for a low-budget film?

Anastasov: As Angela herself said, the basis for a successful film project is still a good script. The Romanian New Wave has wonderful films. With true social stories and limited budgets, they made pretty successful films this past decade. Still, shooting a film is teamwork, it depends on a lot of factors, from the script to the successful directorial realization, as well as the participation of the rest of the crew members.