MADRID — London-based Film Republic has swooped on world rights to Bulgaria’s Svetla Tsotsorkova’s second feature, “Sister,” set to world premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival in its prestigious New Directors competition for first and second features.
Also playing New Directors, Tsotsorkova’s feature debut, 2015’s ”Thirst,” a character-driven coming of age tale with a strong sense of rural place, also bowed in New Directors, sparking upbeat reviews which established Tsotsorkova as a director to track.
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“Rarely does a debut feature come along with the visual and narrative confidence of ‘Thirst,’ a beautifully crafted, subtly told story of two very different teens hesitantly coming together in Bulgaria’s rural southwest,” Jay Weissberg write in his Variety review.
Off the back of strong reviews, “Thirst” sold 15 territories for sales gent Alpha Violet and garnered strong festival play and prizes.
Produced and co-written by Tsotsorkova and Svetoslav Ovcharov, also the producer of “Thirst,” “Sister” reunites the director with “Thirst” leads Monika Naydenova and Svetlana Yancheva. Its story turns on a mother and two young sisters swept up in a snowball of family lies sparked by the younger, sister Rayna’s compulsive lying, sluiced by a fanciful imagination. Battling to fix things, however, she finds out the truth about her mother.
A first trailer just dropped by Film Republic suggests that at least one of Rayna’ lies might strike uncomfortably close to home. Yancheva again plays the mother; Naydenova, the memorable teen water-diviner of “Thirst,” take on the role of Rayna.
“Svetla Tsotsorkova has made a film about family life and sisterhood, and the sweet little lies families tell each other, and the way they pull together to overcome them, something we can all relate to,” said Film Republic’s Xavier Henry-Rashid.
He added: “As well as boasting a unique visual style, ‘Sister’ has a real heart and warmth, and we’re very happy to take this film into the marketplace.”
“‘Sister’ is actually a story about myself,” Tsotsorova claims. It was inspired by her own habit of making up stories which survived even down to her application for film school at Sofia’s National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts, she asserts.
“I was raised by my grandmother in a village in the Strandzha Mountain in the South-Eastern part of Bulgaria. Our life there was boring, locked as it was between the vineyard, the vegetable garden, and taking care of the donkey. And how can you not make up stories when the daily grind itself doesn’t offer anything exciting?” Tsotsorkova writes by way of explanation in a director’s statement.
So “Sister” is “a love confession for the people who live precisely such seemingly unremarkable lives. It seems to me that we all owe a debt to the truth about the kind of world we live in.”
“Sister” was developed as part of the Arras Days, then subsequently at the Sofia Meetings (where it won second prize). Produced by director-producer Ovcharov’s Sofia-based Omega Films, it was co-funded by the Doha Film Institute.
Following on San Sebastian, “Thirst” went on to win at Minsk; At Listapad, Belarus, it nabbed best cast and its Jury Prize; at Arras, France: the Mise En Scene-Direction Award; at Vilnius, best film and best actress.
Among other trophies, at Crossing Europe, in Austria, it “Thirst” scooped the best film Audience Award, then best Bulgarian feature at the Sofia Film Fest; a special mention for best actors at Cluj and Golden Roses for best first feature and cinematography. “Thirst” was also nominated in the Discovery category of the 2016 European Film Awards.