Interview with Magdalena Ralcheva

Interview with Magdalena Ralcheva

Question : Tell us something about yourself, when did you graduate, who was your mentor ?

Magdalena Ralcheva : I graduated from the "Film and Television Directing" class at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts " Krastyo Sarafov" in the class of prof. Hristo Hristov and had the chance to be in his last class. In 2005 I defended my master’s degree. You know that in 2015 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Bulgarian cinema and I had a great desire to honor this renowned Bulgarian film director. So, we decided to hold special shows of some of his landmark films at the International Festival of the New European Cinema, the "Golden Linden”, which I’ve been organizing for three years now in Stara Zagora, but officials from "FILMAUTOR" told me I had to pay 400 levs per film. Provided that the festival is a non-commercial event, the entry is free, and the purpose is educational, I believe that such claims are ridiculous and unfounded. It is sad and absurd that nobody thought of Hristo Hristov, and none of his films was included in the questionnaires and ratings dedicated to the Bulgarian cinema.

Q : How did you make your feature film "Something More About Love"?

M.R. : I applied for subsidy for a debut feature film at the National Film Centre and the project was approved. The script was written by Georgi Danailov – it was a very humane and gripping story. Throughout the filming period, I had a good luck because the film "Something More About Love" was very complicated in terms of the film set - three epochs, many and different locations and huge crowd scenes. We shot the four annual seasons for 30 days and I had a lot of luck - the weather was absolutely according to our plans - on October 11 we had to shoot scenes on a seaside beach and the temperature was 26 degrees Centigrade, and on November 3 - it was winter with snow up to the knees on Vitosha mount. I was lucky to work with incredible professionals and I realize that without their talent and dedication to the cinema, the movie would not have been the same.

I am grateful for the wonderful music of Bozhidar Petrov, for the opportunity to work with such a gifted, yet humble and good man. I am glad that I again worked with cameraman Alexander Lazarov. Without the artist of the film Vladimir Lekarski and costume designer Martha Mironska the epochs, recreated by us would not have been so authentic. I had the most accurate and best actors - Kalin Vratchanski, Simeon Lyutakov, Maria Statulova, Velko Kanev, Iranian Sepide Delforuz, Dimo Alexiev and many others. And if I should again choose the actors I would not have changed anything.

I know it may sound implausible but we worked with an incredible ease, I was surrounded by genuine professionals and marvelous people and all that pleasant atmosphere left its imprint on the film. I don’t like chaos, tensions and shouting on the set, it is detrimental to the creative process, an unnecessary burden and blocks people. My opinion is that the atmosphere established during the shooting process is among the most important components in creating a film and I think spectators unmistakably feel it.

You know the dramatic situation with the distribution of Bulgarian films – in case someone agrees to show them, they will be on screen for a very short period. I am glad that “Something More about Love” was on screen for a long time at Euro Cinema and now it can be downloaded from the Zamunda torrent. Ultimately, why are films created – to be viewed and not to gather dust in a cupboard.

Q : Do you associate the difficulty in receiving subsidies with the fact that you are a woman?

M.R. : No. I don’t think it matters concerning the subsidies – primarily it concerns abilities and qualities, both of the film director and the project. You see that it is becoming increasingly difficult, many colleagues want to make films, and this is only too natural, but the money is never sufficient for everything. It would be nice if the cultural policy in our country was more generous to its own cinema industry, but it remains wishful thinking and dreams. I’m fed up of this whimpering and complaining, there are alternative ways of financing and no matter how difficult they are, they should also be used, an example in this respect is the film “Lesson” which was not supported by the National Film Centre, but is creators found supporters and realized it very successfully.

I would have never made "Something More About Love" if it was not for Stanimir Trifonov, who at that time was director of the “Vreme” Studio. For the intricate staging of the film I had only 600 000 levs and no producer wanted to hear about it. I will always be grateful to Stanimir for his full support and the comfort he provided to all of us on the shooting location.

Q : If you take a look at statistical figures, we will find out that women in the cinema industry are much less than men?

M.R. : On the face of it the presence of women in this profession is not something new and unusual. The first woman director - Alice Guy-Blaché made her movie only 10 years after the birth of the cinema in 1905, but it was only in 2010 that Kathryn Bigelow won the first Oscar statuette for Best Director.

It is not easy to talk about women directors in filmmaking - there are women who do well in their career, but their number is not large, because the nature of work is associated with a great deal of tension, risks, exceptional responsibility and dedication. Implicitly, filmmaking remains a profession that is a priority for men, and any exception to it only confirms this. The members of the American Film Academy are 13,400, of whom only a thousand are women. Concerning the Bulgarian cinema, we have amazing women directors who have left their bright trace in the history of our cinema and despite the difficulties, they have built their creative careers in a dignified way.

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