What is your film about and what makes it unique?
THIRST is a love film. Every year thousands of new love films are being released. But films are very personal, just like love. There are no two identical films, just like there are no two identical fallings in love. THIRST is a love film that can save our soul and make us remain human.
The location is very crucial to your story. Did you have it in mind when you wrote the script? And how much did it influence the writing?
Though we found the location after finishing the script, it seemed as if the script had been written just for it. The village had no water supply and just a handful of remaining old residents. It has an unearthly beauty, but is also deserted and unkempt. One has to be desperate and extremely pressed to force oneself to live here. Our characters are in this position. So, location and characters complement each other.
How is your work as a director influenced by your experience as an actress? Do you work differently with your cast?
I acted in several films directed by friends. It might have been easier for them to pick me instead of getting involved in lengthy casting exercises. I did not really have the right actors who fit the roles in THIRST, so it took me two years to find them. I was constantly asking the screenwriter to write more short dialogue pieces for testing potential actors. I now realise I was really testing myself.
Most of the actors are in front of a camera for the first time. How did you find them?
We tried over 3,000 kids for the roles of the two young teenagers. My assistant and I would spend days at different schools all around Bulgaria, looking at teenagers. I am surprised nobody arrested us for trying to engage the kids in conversation. When you get immersed so deeply into something, there is always the danger of drowning in it.
After this first feature film experience: What do you most love / most hate about filmmaking?
Maybe the fact that I grew up in a village makes me relish the exhausting daily effort a film needs. I was taught that if one does not water, weed, and fertilise a garden when one should, one will not get to pick any fruits or vegetables. Not to mention that collecting the harvest is also hard work.
Who do you consider your cinematographic influences?
I like small, human films. I have the feeling that Czech movies from the 60s were made especially for me. But realising this took time. Before I went to the Sofia Film Academy, I thought Kurosawa was a type of motorcycle.
How important is the EFA Discovery Award for you as a young filmmaker and what do you expect from the nomination?
To be honest, I discovered this award only when the sales agents for THIRST, Alpha Violet, told me the film was in the shortlist of ten. I thought “super; we won’t get any farther.” A few days later I found we were in the final five. Only then did I take the time to read exactly where we were. Wonders never cease!
How do you see the situation of female directors? What needs to change? Do you have any advice for other female directors?
I do not see directing as men’s or women’s work. The difficulties are the same for men and women: searching for cinematic language, fighting with the raw material, not to mention the difficulties of financing. I admire everyone who endures these, can handle the process, and continues working.
How do you see your future as a filmmaker? What’s next?
I recall an old Biblical tale. A man enjoying a huge harvest resolves to build himself bigger new stores for the following year. God then asks him how he knows what will happen next year; God may take his soul that very night. So, for the moment I prefer to attend to my soul.