PRODUCTION: Tonislav Hristov Wraps Fiction Debut The Good Driver

    Malin Krustev in The Good Driver by Tonislav Hristov Malin Krustev in The Good Driver by Tonislav Hristov

    SOFIA: The acclaimed documentary director Tonislav Hristov completed the Helsinki shooting of his fiction debut The Good Driver on 6 August 2021. The film is a coproduction between Finland’s Making Movies Oy and Bulgaria’s Soul Food, and was supported by Eurimages.

    The plot freely develops characters and situations already known from Hristov’s feature-length documentary success The Good Postman (2016). In the script, written by Kaarle Aho, Tonislav Hristov and Konstantin Bojanov, the lead character Ivan is a Bulgarian taxi driver, who tries to repair his damaged reputation in front of his Finnish family, but constantly finds himself in difficult situations. Two friends from his childhood, a bodyguard and a single mother working as a waitress, also show up.

    “Kaarle Aho is not only my long-time Finnish coproducer, with whose support I made my most successful documentaries, but also a great writer. On the other hand, the Bulgarian director Konstantin Bojanov also proved himself in creative writing. The idea was to show the life difficulties of a middle-aged little man, born and grown up in a remote Bulgarian village during communism, and the risks he undertakes while trying to survive among the new challenges of democracy”, Hristov told FNE.

    The main cast consists of popular Bulgarian actors Malin Krustev and Gerasim Georgiev. Known for her sensitive shorts, director Slava Doycheva participates here as an actress, next to Finland’s Alma Pöysti. A good part of the cast involves some of the real characters already known from The Good Postman.

    “For instance, the Postman and the Mayoral candidate are once again playing themselves. In addition, as the village is on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, the illegal refugees we shot were real”, Hristov added.   

    DoP Orlin Ruevski applied both the documentary and fiction approaches also using a handheld camera.

    Shooting was carried out in different seasons between the autumn of 2020 and the summer of 2021. The main locations were grouped in the Black sea town of Burgas and the nearby Sunny beach resort, the Golyam Dervent border village and Helsinki.

    The budget of the film is 1 m EUR. Making Movies Oy was supported by the Finnish Film Foundation with the amount of 300,000 EUR, while Soul Food received 117,000 EUR from the Bulgarian National Film Center. The Eurimages support amounts to 137,000 EUR.  

    “In my latest documentaries I loved to experiment with controlled episodes, positioned characters, preplanned situations and partly directed dialogues. During the shooting of my fiction debut, for some important episodes I applied a documentary approach. The most difficult challenge for me now is to find, together with the Finnish editor Mervi Junkkonen, the right balance”, Hristov concluded.

    The commercial release is planned for the first half of 2022.

    Production information:

    Making Movies Oy (Finland)
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    Soul Food (Bulgaria)
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    Director: Tonislav Hristov
    Script: Kaarle Aho, Tonislav Hristov, Konstantin Bojanov
    DoP: Orlin Ruevski
    Production designer: Severina Stoyanova
    Cast: Malin Krustev, Gerasim Georgiev, Slava Doycheva, Alma Pöysti