FNE at Golden Rose National Film Festival 2021: January

    January by Andrey M Paunov January by Andrey M Paunov

    VARNA: Andrey M Paunov’s debut feature January will screen in the main competition of the 39th Golden Rose National Film Festival (23 – 29 September 2021). The film is a coproduction between Bulgaria, Portugal and Luxembourg.

    The script, written by Alex Barrett and Andrey M Paounov, is inspired by Yordan Radichkov’s allegorical play of the same name, which was released in 1974. The absurdist mix of elements of the folklore of Northwestern Bulgaria with biblical allusions served as a base for the creation of a surreal tale.

    “I tried to reintegrate Radichkov’s text in a modern existential drama flirting with genres like western, thriller, or horror films. Something like Waiting for Godot meeting The Shining somewhere in the Balkans”, Paunov told FNE. “The film tells the story of five men, who are stuck in a snowstorm in the middle of nowhere, and are trying to resolve a mystery, while it is slowly devouring them”, Paunov added.

    Samuel Finzi, Iossif Sarchadhiev, Zachary Baharov and Leonid Yovchev play the main parts. There are no female characters.

    Portugal’s DoP Vasco Viana shot in black and white.

    The principal shooting lasted 23 days and it took place in extreme mountainous conditions in January and February 2019.

    The film is produced by Bulgaria’s Portokal with a budget of around 575,000 EUR, in coproduction with the Bulgarian National Television, Portugal’s Terratreme Filmes and Luxembourg’s Tarantula. It was supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center, the Portuguese Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Art, the Film Fund Luxembourg, and the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme. Sofia-based Nu Boyana offered in-kind services equal to the amount of 55,000 EUR.

    “It’s been six years since we discussed the first draft of the script. During this time, we earned a lot of credit of trust, but we also had many setbacks: creative, personal, financial. At the lowest moments, I would ask myself: what is this film, why am I doing it, is it worth it, and the answer never changed. I learned that one has to always keep a film’s heart in sight, for it is the guiding light to get you through a storm. January is a work of love”, producer Vanya Rainova told FNE. 

    The domestic release of the film is planned for the beginning of 2022.

    Andrey M Paounov is an award-winning director mostly known for his nonfiction trilogy on the absurdities of the post-totalitarian transition: Georgi and the Butterflies (Silver Wolf at IDFA, 2004), The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories (Cannes Critics’ Week, 2007) and The Boy Who Was a King (Toronto IFF, 2011). His latest documentary Walking on Water (2018), with the unique participation of Christo, the famous large-scale installations artist, premiered at the Locarno IFF in August 2018.

    Production Information:

    Portokal (Bulgaria)
    Vanya Rainova
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    BNT (Bulgaria)
    Terratreme Filmes (Portugal)
    Tarantula (Luxembourg)

    Director: Andrey M Paounov
    Scriptwriters: Alex Barrett, Andrey M. Paounov
    DoP: Vasco Viana
    Music: Ivo Paounov
    Cast: Samuel Finzi, Iossif Sarchadhiev, Zachary Baharov, Leonid Yovchev