ANJELA, 16min., Bulgaria, Documentary/Animation
Directed by Vilma Kartalska
Anjela Pencheva has suffered from Cerebral Palsy since birth, but the difficult diagnosis has never broken her spirit and has turned her into a writer, an actress and a dancer. Through her work and with her computer generated voice, she participates in various initiatives for the rights of the people with disabilities and inspires everyone who has met her.
Anjela's story has haunted me for 13 years, even before I started making films. Life encountered me with it again and again, in different situations, until the time to tell it came. Or not, time she tells it through me came. Her need to communicate with the world has led her to art, where, although snuggled down in a wheelchair, she flies. It was this freedom of spirit that I wanted to recreate with animation - brave, vivid, light as a feather Anjela. The incredible animation artist Dimitar Dimitrov-Animiter magnificently captured that. And so, in 16 minutes Anjela can do everything she has always dreamed of, and we can only benefit from her strength.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
The strength of Anjela and her persistence to keep on working in the field of art, even though her condition makes this really hard. Over the years, I saw many of my colleagues give up on art, they were healthy, but psychologically not ready for the challenges. For me, she is an embodiment of the human spirit and what it is capable of. Life encountered me with her again and again until finally I felt ready to tell her story, or rather the time came for her to tell it through me. So we did it together. In the process I learned a lot from her as a human being and I’m thankful that we shot the film.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Initially the project won a subsidy from Sofia Municipality. We waited half a year for the results. But in the meantime we got another sum from the film competition of Nonconformist Alternative. After that we postponed the shooting several times, I think it took about a year and a half to finish it. But the trip was very exciting for all of us.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
An emanation of the spirit.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Unfortunately, the start of the work on the film coincided with the Covid-19 crisis and we had to wait months for the government to allow work like ours. I was worried we wouldn’t make it in time. As a producer the responsibility is yours and I lived for a while on pins and needles. But the important thing is that it happened and we did not give up despite the hard time for all the mankind.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
It turned out that the film is very popular with the audience. There are often people crying in the movie theatre. But overall the response has been very positive and the comments are that the story is inspiring. Personally, it was very precious to me the first time I showed it to Anjela and her mother. They were surprised at how bright and joyful the story was. But after all that was the goal. Anjela is always a smiling and she is thankful for her life, I wanted to recreate that on the screen.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
In my 20s. I am a trained actress and I always wanted to make films. But I thought I would participate as part of the cast. Life surprised me and that dream of mine did not come true. I directly jumped to the next level – to make films as a director, screenwriter and producer. I think that way one has a lot more control over the material than if they were just actors.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Maybe “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” – I love the beauty of the romantic story in it, the dark retro aesthetics and the great work of the cast. Gary Oldman has been my favorite actor since I was a teenager. In fact, it is because of him that I took the path of acting and I still adore him as a talent.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
You have done a great job. The festival is organized magnificently, so many things have been thought of – how to promote our work and make our voices heard. I can only wish the festival a long life and always successful editions.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
I have worked with all festival platforms. This one is my favorite. It is extremely easy and fast to work with. And time in the life of the artist is a major factor.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Potatoes. Prepared any way possible. I can eat them every day. But to be honest, I don’t cook, I don’t even have a cooker at home. When I visit my mom, she takes care of my potato obsession
11. What is next for you? A new film?
My team and I are currently working on my first feature documentary. It is about the Golden rhythmic gymnasts of Bulgaria, who became Olympic champions in 2021 and dethroned the Russian team for the first time in the history of the Games. The whole country was extremely happy and proud of their achievement. So we just immortalized it, hopefully next year the film will be ready.