Dreaming of the West, Boryana is determined not to have a child in communist Bulgaria. Nonetheless, her daughter Viktoria enters the world in 1979, curiously missing a belly button, and is declared the country’s Baby of the Decade. Pampered by her mother state until the age of nine, Viktoria’s decade of notoriety comes crashing down with the rest of European communism. But can political collapse and the hardship of new times finally bring Viktoria and her reluctant mother closer together?
Viktoria is a semi-autobiographic story. In reality or in my imagination I went through it and I would like to offer the same journey to the audience, because Viktoria not only asks „To be or not to be?”, but answers that it is essential „To be!” only if you learn to love.
The plot of Viktoria follows the last decade of Communism and the first decade of Bulgarian political, social and cultural transition through the life adventures of Viktoria and her mother Boryana. The story escorts their emotional journey from Hatred to Love and our country’s journey from Communism to Democracy. Crucially,Viktoria is a story about Choice.
Viktoria offers a number of fascinating, sometimes hilarious, other times heartbreaking situations and images. Crucially – a child born without an umbilical cord to connect it to its mother. It is what makes Viktoria strong – no umbilical cord, which illustrates her biggest weakness – no love.
As long as there’s no love for myViktoria, there’s no reason to be born. But since I believe her story could make the world a better place for at least 155 minutes, there’s a reason to tell it.
I’m quoting the autobiography of a legendary director – Kurosawa („Something as an autobiography оr the sweat of the tree frog”) – because it is significant and wise and since my story Viktoria is something as an autobiography. I do believe that joining the philosophy of personalities such as Kurosawa’s in a moment, when the world is overwhelmed with psycho and physical terror, film nightmares, turning into reality, lack of interest and compassion for the other person, will help those trying to make films and alter the reality.
The idea of Viktoria exists for quite some time now but turning back in time I realize that it was formed in my consciousness for years. Suchlike stories can only be born in the mind and soul of someone who went through all the stages of transition, which we Bulgarians, go through since 1989 – euphoria of the longed freedom and new hopes and dreams, hunger and years of misery, anger and alienation, indifference, emigration, corruption, criminality, lost moral principles and detonation of the values, lose of faith, but also maturity. I realize that the idea of a child, born with no umbilical cord – the lack of connection with the mother who gives life – is a clear indication for the loss of connection with the innermost. Without a needless pathos: life in Bulgaria turned into a survivor’s game.
Viktoria is a story of Bulgaria and us Bulgarians, exactly because we went through it but my experience from the time spent abroad (workshops, film markets, etc.), where most of the people never been cursed or blessed with our past, showed that the story is universal and can touch everyone. Regardless of our nationality and past we all have mothers and we are who we are due to this relationship.
The key situations in Viktoria are stories that happened in my own life, but the willingness to tell them is not an obsession for psychoanalysis or a self cure. The motive to write Viktoria links to the story Kurosawa tells at the very beginning of his book. A healing frog in a box with mirror walls, frightened by its own reflection, starts secreting an oily secretion similar to sweat. They used to boil this sweat on a faint fire for days and that’s how produced a miraculous cure. According to Kurosawa, to write about yourself, is similar to being locked between four walls covered with mirrors and stare at yourself. And although you’re not a frog, you feel sweat streaming down your body…
Storytelling is a mission, one of the few ways to change human lives. To write stories and turn them into films, which truly regenerate the humanity, the human spirit, you odd to be honest. To lock yourself into the mirror box and examine you from top to toe, to tell a story of a moment in your life which somehow changed you, a story, that can thus help turning the lives of those who see it better. I do hope that the cure – the film – I prepared out of my „sweat”, will be healing for the people who use it for their „wounds”. That’s the reason I wrote Viktoria.
Maya Vitkova, Bio
Maya Vitkova is a writer/director and producer who was born in Sofia in 1978. She graduated from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts with MA in film directing in 2001. Until 2006 Maya has worked as an assistant director and / or casting director for over 20 Bulgarian and International productions, such as Michael Palin’s (the legendary Monty Python’s member) New Europe: Eastern Delight, produced for the BBC.
In 2008 Maya Vitkova executive produced the independent feature Eastern Plays by Kamen Kalev. The film premiered at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight and was nominated for the Camera d’Or. The internationally awarded Eastern Plays was among the three films nominated for the LUX award of the European Parliament, in the official selection of the 2009 European Film Awards and Bulgaria’s candidate in the nominations race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar 2011.
Beginning of 2009 Maya Vitkova founded Viktoria Films, a company focused on producing independent short and feature films.
Currently her company has three released projects – the short film Stanka Goes Home, written by the award-winning Romanian writer/director Radu Jude and directed/produced by Maya Vitkova. The film premiered out of competition at the 49th Cannes Critic’s Week (63rd Cannes International Film Festival).Stanka Goes Home was the only Bulgarian participation in the competition programmes of Toronto, Hamburg, Huesca (Francisco Gracia de Paso award and Special mention of the Youth Jury) and Sarajevo (Special jury mention – best international short film) among others. The film has been selected for over 70 international film festivals and received 10 awards, it was sold out for broadcasting in the USA, to Eurochannel, and exhibited in cinemas in Germany. The World sales / Distributor is KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V.
The second film is the short fiction My Tired Father, co-written by Radu Jude and Maya Vitkova, directed by Maya and produced by her and Emil Vitkov. The film premiered at the 17th CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto. The film has been selected for over 50 international film festivals and received 7 awards, it was sold out for broadcasting to Turner Broadcasting in South America. The World sales / Distributor is KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V.
Maya Vitkova currently completed her debut feature Viktoria (aka Queen Viktoria) in coproduction with the Romanian production company Mandragora of Anca and Cristi Puiu. The project has been selected for the Script & Pitch Workshops, the Balkan Fund, the Berlinale Talent Project Market, the NIPKOW Programm and the EKRAN Programme of Andrzej Wajda’s Master School of Film Directing and supported by the MEDIA Programme, Vienna Film Fund and the Bulgarian National Film Center.
Viktoria (2013) – feature, 155 min
My Tired Father (2011) – short, 14 min
Stanka Goes Home (2010) – short, 15 min
Mothers and Daughters (2006) – documentary, 27 min
IRMENA CHICHIKOVA, Boryana
DARIA VITKOVA, Viktoria (2nd age)
KALINA VITKOVA, Viktoria (3rd age)
MARIANA KRUMOVA, Dima
DIMO DIMOV, Ivan
GEORGI SPASOV, Todor Zhivkov
KATERINA ANGELOVA, Viktoria (1st age)
Writer, Director: MAYA VITKOVA
Director of Photography: KRUM RODRIGUEZ
Composer: KALOYAN DIMITROV
Sound Design: KAMEN ATANASOV
Art Design: RIN YAMAMURA
Editor: ALEXANDER ETIMOV
Producer: MAYA VITKOVA, VIKTORIA FILMS (BULGARIA)
Co-Producer: ANCA PUIU, MANDRAGORA (ROMANIA)
Supported by: MEDIA PROGRAMME, VIENNA FILM FUND, BULGARIAN NATIONAL FILM CENTER
Viktoria Films Company Profile
In 2008 Maya Vitkova executive produced the independent feature Eastern Plays by Kamen Kalev. The film premiered at the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight and was nominated for the Camera d’Or.Eastern Plays was among the 3 films nominated for the LUX award of the European Parliament, in the official selection of the 2009 European Film Awards and Bulgaria’s candidate in the nominations race for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar 2011. Beginning of 2009 Maya Vitkova founded Viktoria Films.
Currently the company has three released projects – the short film Stanka Goes Home, written by the award-winning Romanian writer/director Radu Jude and directed/produced by Maya Vitkova. The project was presented at the European Short Pitch in Clermont-Ferrand, financially supported by the Bulgarian National Culture Fund and the 35mm film print was produced with the support of the Bulgarian National Film Center. Stanka Goes Home premiered out of competition at the 49th Cannes Critic’s Week (63rd Cannes International Film Festival). The film was the only Bulgarian participation in the competition programmes of Toronto, Hamburg, Huesca (Francisco Garcia de Paso award and Special jury mention) and Sarajevo (Special jury mention – best international short), among others. The film has been selected for over 80 international film festivals, received 10 awards, was sold out for broadcasting to Eurochannel and exhibited in German cinemas. The world sales / distributor is KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V.
Viktoria Films completed the short film My Tired Father, co-written by Radu Jude and Maya Vitkova, directed by Maya and produced by her and Emil Vitkov. The film premiered at the 17th CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto (June, 2011). MTF has been selected for over 50 international film festivals, received 7 awards and was sold to Turner Broadcasting in South America. The world sales / distributor is KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg e.V.
Viktoria Films recently completed the feature film Viktoria (aka Queen Victoria) by Maya Vitkova in coproduction with the leading Romanian production company Mandragora, Anca Puiu. The project has been selected for the Script & Pitch Workshops, the Balkan Fund, the Berlinale Talent Project Market, the NIPKOW Programm, the EKRAN Programme of Andrzej Wajda’s Master School of Film Directing, the Phare Workshop, etc. VIKTORIA was financially supported by the Media Programme and Vienna Film Fund (development), and the Bulgarian National Film Center (development and production) and premiered in the World Dramatic Competition of Sundance Film Festival 2014.
Interviews & Reviews
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