PRODUCTION: Bulgarian/UK The Wheels of Heaven Starring Mickey Rourke and Dessy Tenekedjieva, Directed by Ben Charles Edwards Enters Postproduction

    Dessy Tenekedjieva and Mickey Rourke Dessy Tenekedjieva and Mickey Rourke courtesy of Black Sea Film

    SOFIA: Following a summer/autumn shooting carried out in three steps in Bulgaria, London and Beverly Hills, the new dramatic thriller The Wheels of Heaven, produced by Dessy Tenekedjieva’s Sofia based Black Sea Film in association with UK’s Goldfinch, entered postproduction in London.

    The privately financed independent film stars Academy Award nominee Mickey Rourke, Gary Stretch, Geoff Bell and Dessy Tenekedjieva herself, who created the story together with Ben Charles Edwards, the director of the film.

    Within a budget of nearly 2 m EUR, the film has applied to the Bulgarian National Film Center's cash rebate scheme, expecting to recover 25% from the qualifying expenditures, Dessy Tenekedjieva told FNE.

    The film is produced by Dessy Tenekedjieva’s Black Sea Film (Bulgaria) in association with Tenekedjieva’s another outlet NOVA Film (Bulgaria). It is coproduced by UK’s Goldfinch - The Number 44.

    The script written by Mike Shilliam follows the life steps of a troubled young girl named Iva and her relationship with a charming older boy. A mysterious question remains suspended in the air: is the boy the fallen angel Lucifer, sent to guide Iva in her destiny to save the human race, or is he a deluded and dangerous man?

    “Upon my first encounter with Ben Charles Edwards in London a few years ago, I felt a compelling sense of magic, inexplicable metaphysical, spiritual and a creative attraction. After a five-hour conversation, we both knew we would create a film someday together. A few development projects later, the idea of a ‘love letter’ to the Devil was born. Ben had been inspired for years by Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger, so was I by Goethe’s Faust and Mikhail Bolgakov’s Woland from The Master and Margarita. Now, I want to pay special thanks to my UK coproducer Kirsty Bell and Goldfinch for all the support and belief. For me it is an honour to collaborate with such an established and elite UK independent company. My executive producers, the cult British actor and former legendary boxer Gary Stretch, and Neli Beshirova helped me a lot as well”, lead producer Dessy Tenekedjieva told FNE.

    According to Ben Charles Edwards, The Wheels of Heaven is a tense thriller and at times a touching coming-of-age story; a love letter to the Devil, examining the ambiguity of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and exploring how these concepts relate to life as it’s actually lived and the delicate balance between them. To quote the film, "there is darkness in the most virtuous and light in the corrupt.”  “It’s been an honour to work with such talented creatives and cast on this story, including Mickey Rourke, who delivers a delightfully shocking performance in playing Reverend Beau Jackson,” said Ben Charles Edwards.

    Shooting started on 1 July 2022 and took place in over 30 locations, most of them in Bulgaria. DoP Dennis Madden shot the film in 31 days. Production and costume designer Trinity Tristan together with art director Stamena Stoeva handled the sets of numerous impressive scenes, including one with over 1500 participants.

    “It is important that the film has a strong international cast. I am also thrilled to continue my quest in introducing three generations of extraordinary Bulgarian actors to the world stage. Our female lead, newcomer Eleonora Ivanova (Iva) is astounding, as well as young Dimitar Nikolov (the Stranger), Svetlana Yantcheva, Michail Mutafov, Radina Borshosh, Ilian Stamenkovand many more”, Tenekedjieva also added.

    The Wheels of Heaven is our first official coproduction with Bulgaria and in our many coproductions over the years it is the most illuminating and fulfilling of all. On visiting Bulgaria and working out the synergies of our coproduction, we resulted in a partnership that has used the best resources of both countries despite Brexit. Together we are making a truly global film that may provide a blueprint for both our companies’ futures. Dessy is a formidable producer and her executive producer skills are amongst the best I have seen. I am proud to be in partnership”, Goldfinch Kirsty Bell told FNE.

    Production Information:

    Black Sea Film (Bulgaria)
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    In association with NOVA Film (Bulgaria)
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    Goldfinch - The Number 44 (UK)

    Director: Ben Charles Edwards
    Story: Ben Charles Edwards, Dessy Tenekedjieva
    Scriptwriter: Mike Shilliam
    DoP: Dennis Madden
    Production and Costume designer: Trinity Tristan
    Art director: Stamena Stoeva
    Music: House of Noise
    Main cast: Mickey Rourke, Gary Stretch, Dessy Tenekedjieva, Geoff Bell, Eleonora Ivanova, Dimitar Nikolov
    Additional cast: Lee Ryan, Nicky Whelan, Sadie Frost, Mihail Mutafov, Svetlana Yancheva, Radina Borshosh, Ilian Stamenkov, Ovanes Torosian, Kate Nichols, Violetta Chelsea Christou, Blagovest Blagoev, Katya Rose, Emil Kamenov