Despite the international success of these films with selections such as IDFA, AFI, Warsaw, Sarajevo, Goteborg, they haven’t been aired on Bulgarian television for years. The authors were interrogated by the public prosecutor at home for one and a half years. The attempts to land the pair in jail failed when European institutions got involved, the publicity increased and as Variety summarised those films act as “rare gadflies whose sting is causing a massive allergic reaction on the thin skin of Bulgaria’s filmmaking elite”.
Their first fiction film CAT IN THE WALL, supported by Media, premiered in the official competition at the Locarno Film Festival 2019 and SXSW for North America. It received the FIPRESCI award at the Warsaw Film Festival 2019 and it was part of the European Film Awards Feature Film Selection 2020. The film is on Amazon Prime for USA, HBO Europe, and released in 40-screen in Spain under the title Pequenos milagros en Peckham Street.
Mileva and Kazakova’s latest feature, WOMEN DO CRY, stars Borat Subsequent Movie Film breakout actress and Oscar® nominee Maria Bakalova. “The film’s raw, pulsating anger and some bravura performances make for an explosive drama that should win hearts and minds following its world premiere in Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2021", as quoted by Screen Daily.
The film is Bulgarian-French coproduction, supported by Bulgarian Film Centre, ARTE, Ile de France and Eurimages. It ranked among the six best films from the official Cannes selection according to Screen International and it received a warm critical reception as well as strong upcoming festival selections. The film received the prestigious Eurimages cash award Audentia (courage in Latin), given to a female director annually and is part of European Film Awards Feature Film Selection 2022.
Activist38 is behind the first Spanish-Bulgarian coproduction done in collaboration with Distinto films Barcelona. VASIL with a main Bulgarian protagonist is Avelina Prat’s feature debut. Well known Bulgarian actor Ivan Burnev took the lead role alongside really big names in Spanish cinema such as Karra Elejalde, (Spanish affair), and Susi Sanchez, known from Almodovar’s films.
Last year, Mileva and Kazakova were chosen as a Duo Jury president at Giornate degli Autori section of the Venice film festival 2021. The unprecedented choice of both a woman and a duo, was described as revolutionary by the organisers.
Activist38 has always been concerned about social and political topics, which creates indeed an activist editorial line. Experimenting with mixed genres and documentary matured into a lineup of cinematic fiction films, that also carried a strong social undertone and quite a bit of satire and a fair amount of humour. A German film critic humorously wrote: "No wonder so many Brits are pro Brexit if [two] Bulgarian women can steal a march on old working-class heroes like Ken Loach…”
2021 - WOMEN DO CRY, Feature
2019 - CAT IN THE WALL, Feature
2016 - THE BEAST IS STILL ALIVE, Documentary
2014 - UNCLE TONY, THREE FOOLS AND THE SECRET SERVICE, Feature
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
Written by: Bilyana Kazakova, Mina Mileva, Vesela Kazakova
Produced by: Vesela Kazakova, Mina Mileva, Christophe Bruncher
Cinematography: Dimitar Kostov
Editing: Donka Ivanova, Yann Dedet
Production Design: Marieta Tsenova, Maria Ilchovska
Costume Design: Marieta Tsenova
Make-Up & Hair: Greta Velikova
Original Score: Andy Cowton
Sound: Stéphane de Rocquigny
Visual Effects: Mohammed Zemmar, Mina Mileva
Casting: Vania Bajdarova
Cast: Maria Bakalova (Sonja), Ralitsa Stoyanova (Lara), Katia Kazakova (Ana), Bilyana Kazakova (Veronica), Vesela Kazakova (Yoana), Iossif Surchadjiev (The Father), Rositca Gevrenova (Maria), Diana Spasova (Didi), Dobriela Popova (Tina)
Nominations and Awards
- Feature Film Selection 2022