FILM OF THE MONTH
THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL
By E. J. Wickes
In The Sinking of Sozopol, the measure of one man’s life and the people most influential to it is told through the consumption of ten bottles of vodka. This film takes the therapeutic human condition of drinking your sorrows away to a new level. Deyan Donkov, as Chavo, the film’s protagonist, does a brilliant job of maintaining the ambivalence and selfishness of his character. Directed by Kostadin Bonev and written by Ina Valchanova, this art house narrative challenges the viewers by leading them into the surreal settings that separate Chavo’s dream state from his reality.
The seamless editing by Toma Waszarow was crucial in pulling off this non-linear dreamscape. The continuity from scene to scene was smooth and not thoroughly confusing as some surrealist works often are. In the opening scene, we’re immediately immersed in the subtlety of Kostadin Bonev’s non-linear structure. It foreshadows a scenario in Chavo’s life that’s all too common. An uncomfortable confrontation between friend and family. I was compelled to see a man who has lost or abandoned everything and everyone he’s ever loved or hated.
Chavo decides to take a trip, but not to Vienna to visit his family as per his doctor’s request. Instead as a vision quest, he returns to his home town of Sozòpol, an ancient seaside town nestled along the Black Sea Coast and his walk down a very melancholy memory lane begins. We’re given flashbacks from a time when he and his family inhabited the cottage he’s returned to. He readies himself by stocking the fridge with ten bottles vodka and hanging a chart on the side so he can mark off each bottle day by day. And when he finishes the tenth bottle? No one can really predict. The Sinking of Sozopol refuses to lead you with obvious breadcrumbs.
From Chavo’s arrival he is stalked by the ghostly presence of Gina, the observer and guide it would appear, to the rest of the lost souls about to converge on Sozopol. They are about to intervene in his vodka cleanse and join him on the final leg of his journey. In his dreams we see Chavo swimming along the sea’s floor, where he discovers a room submerged with a bed and his brother laying beside it. Grave markers and relics from the past line the sea bottom, below the rustic landscape of a little village leaning on the edge of time.
The days progress as the bottles are emptied. The rain begins and the sea begins to swell. It is June, the middle of Summer and cloudy. The village seems uninhabited except for a few straggling vacationers stranded in Limbo. Outstanding locations and set design embellish the surrealism as each significant character develops and accompanies Chavo to the conclusion of his journey.
The cinematography is remarkable to anyone with a painter’s eye. The sets were treated very monochromatically, with subtle bursts of warm color to keep the viewer’s mind’s eye on the border between life and death. The Sinking of Sozopol comes with a moody and ambient sound track, composed by Nikolay Ivanov. It works well with the sleepy atmosphere of Sozopol; a village besieged by gray skies, rain and earthy color schemes.
Every character in this story has their own personal baggage to claim. It is not always easy to differentiate Chavo’s imaginings from his reality, but this only serves to enforce observations about our own mortality and life experiences. It is because of memories and dreams that we have the freedom to roam within the boundaries of our own self discovery or self deprecation.
This movie left me with a few unanswered questions. Even though it was never meant to provide all the answers, this is a very intelligent film. It’s more about following the characters and experiencing the human condition in all its short lived splendor and relative sadness. Was Sozopol some threshold between the living and the dead where old memories were relived but never completely resolved? Regardless of how open ended the conclusion is left, it never deprives the viewer the satisfaction of a climatic resolution shared by old friends and lovers who were driven apart by years of uncertainty.
E. J. Wickes is a visual artist, the Creator, Designer and Publisher of The Metamodern Magazine and the Managing Editor of Cult Critic Magazine. His aesthetics lie somewhere in the vortex between painting and filmmaking. Eric has worked as an Art Director, Lead Scenic and Leadman on many film productions from Wes Craven’s “The People Under the Stairs”, to his most recent involvement with the “Verizon Go90 Channel”, production of the comedy series “Embeds”.
Festival Internacional de Cinema de Brasilia’2015
THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL
By prof. Gustavo Fontele Dourado
It is not the images that make the film...
... it is the soul of the images.
Memories that cannot be abandoned, a town that hasn’t been visited in a long time, and ten bottles of vodka as a quest to a mystical salvation are the elements that create the world of The Sinking of Sozopol. The Bulgarian film is the third feature film of Kostadin Bonev, also an author of numerous documentaries
Chavo is a middle-aged man between forty and fifty. He’s after a mysterious goal: to drink up ten bottles of vodka in order to experience something fantastical in his hometown. He imagines that after the last bottle of vodka, something must change about the different lives inside of him, in his town, and in the people around him.
The film is one of the most beautiful selections of the 4th Film Festival in Brazil. It represents an unknown cinema, the Bulgarian, and elicits nothing but praise from the people who follow cinema of that region. For the uninformed, the Bulgarian cinema has existed since 1910 next to cinematic giants like Russia and Poland, as well as its bordering neighbors Turkey, Romania, Greece and Macedonia who have a different mentality.
The story refers us to the custom of ritualistic drinking that aims at drowning the bad memories and feelings. We spiral down with the plot that passes through different islands of memory and suffering. Thus the series of bohemian stories, ending with the drowning of the town, transforms into something magnificent.
The film compels the viewer to ask: “Will Chavo and his friends survive after the rain that turns Sozopol into a sea of tribulation? Or will the advancing of the sea stop before the drowning?” The melancholic tone of the film doesn’t offer clear answers. Similar to Sokurov’s Russian Arc (2002) the sea turns into a symbol of the impossible. With his ten bottles of vodka Chavo takes the risk and will prevail over the challenge he was striving for by returning to Sozopol. The sea conceals everything, but at the same time it is also full of choices that, although unattainable, could be made. In Sokurov’s film the last limit is shown beyond the point where there is no place left to go. The Sinking of Sozopol doesn’t take away our hope. It is wiser enough to leave us both options, instead of making us wait for the fateful end. Thus the most important message of the film is concentrated in the anticipation: “Will the characters drown in the merciless sea or will they choose to live with what is left for them?” The ending gives the audience a chance to sigh with relief and choose the option they prefer.
The Sinking of Sozopol is a new word, coined in the development of cinematic emotionality, and shows a new Europe trying to break out of the suffocating closed circle of daily life. That’s why I consider the film important. It is truly one of the best representatives of the Bulgarian cinema in the last few years.
EUFF’2015: THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL
Biron Bixler, November 16th, 2015
In The Sinking of Sozopol, a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home with ten full bottles of vodka and a determination to empty each one. In his younger years, the formerly vibrant coastal town was the site of many poignant events, the bad seemingly outnumbering the good. Upon revisiting, the man’s emotional pilgrimage of sorts yields a plethora of tenderly recalled memories and the image of an ancient hamlet that is now cold and empty.
A torrential rain falls without pause, the waves hungrily lapping at the rocks as the waters rise; a collection of dogs without masters mournfully skulk about, their eyes on the sea and the depressed man who might be causing this steady engulfment. Before half the bottles are gone, familiar faces begin to arrive in Sozopol, all of them sent by a mysterious woman, and all of them curious about just what their friend expects to happen when the last drop of vodka is gone.
Director Kostadin Bonev tells this somber tale through an alternating structure of flashbacks and modern day conversations that unexpectedly dip into the metaphysical on occasion. Quasi-dreams and a couple of surreal moments are sprinkled throughout, and the use of editing to intermingle past and present furthers the somewhat playful approach.
But ultimately this is a largely straight-faced portrait of conflicted self-destruction, and the capacity that friendship and community have to help quell the inevitable storms of a troubled mind. It’s slightly monotonous in places, but the thoughtful script and frequently beautiful compositions pull it through.
A MOVIE ABOUT FRIENDS, LOVE, RAIN AND VODKA
Ivana Sucheva, August 18th 2015
Based on Ina Vultchanova's book, the film by Kostadin Bonev "The sinking of Sozopol", rather explores a person's self-deconstructive power, accompanied by an incinerating love, drowned and revived by 10 bottles of vodka and a couple of friends. All this takes place in Sozopol - the oldest coastal town in Bulgaria. It has tiny cobbled streets, rocky coasts and sandy beaches with old pre-1989 styled cafés and shops.
In short, the plot tells about Chavo's (Deyan Donkov) dramatic life story. After a series of great misfortunes in his life, including the death of all his family members, a divorce, and a runaway true love (Snezhina Petrova as Neva), Chavo decides to commit to something like a homecoming suicide by drying out 10 liters of vodka in his old family house at the beach of Sozopol. All of this is laced by gloomy scenes of anxiously bad weather, rough sea, continuous rainfall, racked houses and hysterical outbursts.
However, I still would not define the film as a drama, but rather as a mystery. Even as a mystery, it is touched by the positive note of true friendship, because after all the hardships and the evil manifestations of life, Chavo is not alone in the sinking of his world. The bright face of friendship, depicted by Doc (Stefan Valdobrev), Ginji (Vassil Gurov) and the mystic woman in а red makintosh (Svetlana Yancheva) comes out to outshine the grey and flooding streets of Chavo's depression.
The Sinking of Sozopol was nominated in seven categories in the New York City International Film Festival in its 2015 edition and was awarded for Best International Feature Film.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE. THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL
John Sekerka, November 23, 2015-12-06
Be prepared for a soaking. This is one wet film.
There is rain, there is ocean, there is vodka. Ten bottles worth in fact.
When Chavo returns to the seaside village of his past, he stocks the fridge with alcohol and nothing else. This is a mission. With nothing left, the plan is to drink and leave to join the others. Is there life after Vodka?
What seems like straight forward, gloom and doom Euro fare, turns out to be a time slipping exercise that introduce dead characters and crucial plot lines, which only come together at the very end.
A very bleak, gray, stormy trudge, “The Sinking of Sozonol” is a visual ordeal that tweaks curiosity with every little reveal. Kinda like life itself. Known for documentary work, Bodev’s foray into fiction borrows the awful truth baggage approach from his previous works, yielding an interesting hybrid feel to cinema.
The Magical Emergence of Sozopol
Prof. Ingeborg Bratoeva
"Sinking of Sozopol" by Kostadin Bonev is an uncompromisingly complex film - addressed exclusively to an audience committed to the fundamental questions of existence and asks the viewer to immerse themselves into the nonlinear constructed narrative – a film for the pleasure of art cinema lovers. I do not know how many such viewers exist in the modern Bulgarian audience, but I am convinced that the value of art is not measured statistically and Bulgarian film buffs are entitled to Bulgarian cinema. That’s why I think the "Sinking of Sozopol" is a necessary work for the here and now. Kostadin Bonev has turned to the thoughtful and educated Bulgarian spectator (who, incidentally, have always been the center of his interest). He highlights the essence of cinema as art, as a means of artistic expression, as an aesthetic field, which addresses existential questions.
The main drive of Bonev in "Sinking of Sozopol" is to submerge the audience beneath the surface of life, and in doing so elevates the perception above the visibility of everyday existence. This author's ambition is beautifully realized at all levels of the film - from the visual presentation of the town as a magical place; through metaphors of diving to depths; in the choice of characters, living and dead, entangled in common being; from the dramatic significance of the final rain, the release from addictions and regrets, and the cleansing and watering necessary for new beginnings.
We are familiar with the profound vision found in Bonev’s documentaries, for which "Sinking of Sozopol" shows much more stylistic kinship than with his two previous feature films "Warming Up Yesterday's Lunch" and "War Correspondent". Like in his best documentaries, "The Sinking of Sozopol" is characterized by Bonev’s skilled perception and finesse.
The director seeks to literally immerse the viewer into the magical reality of his film and therefore employs the metaphor of sinking as a visual motif. And I am very tempted as a spectator watching this movie again and again to sink deeper and deeper into its reality and the thinking it inspires. I'm enchanted by the film’s atmosphere and every time I find new layers of depth, as if the story has no bottom, I am dragged deeper by the shifting sands and underwater whirlpools. The diving of protagonist Chavo (which Deyan Donkov plays successfully even though the insecure intellectual is an unusual role for him) is more symbolic than it is a part of the action.
In fact, the viewer is provoked to realize that this sinking in the dreams of the character is in fact an immersion into the classical area of the subconscious. This descent into the unconscious is highlighted and dramatized in the start of the conflict - the decision of Chavo to drink ten bottles of vodka. The hero believes that intoxication will answer the question of whether it is worth continuing to live. The starting point of his return to his deepest memories is tied to a countdown to initiate anesthesia through drinking. Chavo looks at reality under anesthesia, as if in deep sleep, with vaguely emerging pieces of the past. On the screen he is drinking almost constantly and in large quantities. Chavo drinks, as well as his old friends who ran to save him from suicide, and even dead Gina is drinking. Drunkenness is a means of immersion, sinking into memories, but also a way to blur the memory, to suppress the pain of guilt. Chavo suffers from many regrets about what he’s done and hasn’t done.
The hero, lost in time, tries to pick up the pieces of his past and to fight the feeling of emptiness, the feeling that he lacks identity. The torturous arrangement of this in the narrative makes for an extremely complex puzzle of time on the screen that the Kostadin Bonev calls "integral time". A complicated interaction between layers of time initially confuses the viewer but ultimately forms a complete picture suggesting that everything happens in the present.
Here we must pay tribute to film editor Toma Waszarow whose rare sense of rhythm and proportion manages to give visual and semantic cues to influence the viewers' perception. The action moves from time to time through a series of layers without any conditions or warnings, like the tide, bringing with it memories of the characters. The plot of the film is set in numerous inextricably intertwined skeins of time or rather rests on different waves drifting in and out with the tide.
In "The Sinking of Sozopol” the journey by boat and the drowning of the younger brother belong to the past; the boat that has sunk to the bottom of the sea, on the other hand, is a memory in a memory, or more of a dream about the memory, but the tangible present time of the characters is also connected to the sea: to the bathing in the magical morning of Midsummer. This is the day of the year, in which, according to folklore, the world of the living, and the world of the dead meets, and Sozopol is a mystical setting for this meeting.
As Gina (Svetlana Yancheva) narrates: "In Sozopol, logic does not exist." In this film, the border between the two worlds is presented as diffuse, permeable. In the memory of the living, their loved ones who have died continue to live. Svetlana Yancheva as Gina, who had committed suicide (in the majority of the action viewer does not even know that this character is dead) propels the action forward with a particular restraint and mystery. Once again this actress proves that she is able to instill on the screen absolutely everything, including the sense of mysticism.
Her counterpoint is no less mysterious, but full of vitality and passion. The character of Neva played by Snejina Petrova, whose beautiful presence is especially emphasized, even when the script forces her to behave ugly. In fact Neva is the person who belongs both to the past and to the present, and whose return breaks the spell over the main character who lost her love, and thus his connection to reality. The return of Neva in the present tips the scales against the regrets and the traumas of the past.
At the finish, after plunging the viewer, along with the main character, to the bottom of guilt, conflict, and rebellion, Bonev unexpectedly transports the narrative to purification, to the upper land, to the radiant presence of love, which gives life force. The finale is quite atypical for existential journeys that are offered by art cinema, such as those by Antonioni or Lars von Trier, but so characteristic and typical of the bright spirit of Kostadin Bonev.
Sozopol as a symbol
Imagine for a moment there is no one to turn to. You are in a deserted town, abandoned by its thousands of tourists. Your only real companion is alcohol, in this case: 10 bottles of vodka. Outside there is an unending torrential downpour. In this situation the only thoughts that come to your mind are that something important will happen when the last bottle of vodka is finished, or things will get better and there will be a way out of the grayness of the deserted town to live happily ever after. Another option: the world will end with the last sip of vodka.
These are just some of the ideas that you will encounter if you watch "The Sinking of Sozopol." In this film Kostadin Bonev, with the perfect camera work of Konstantin Zankov and the masterful plot by Bonev and author of the novel Ina Valchanova, follows the story of Chavo (acted by Donkov). Chavo is a man lost in his own life, trying to find meaning, and a reason for his existence in his family house. He, through these 10 bottles of vodka will face his past, namely the memories of his already broken family. This is a very personal story, a peek into the life of a man who has forgotten what it is to live fully.
"The Sinking of Sozopol" is one of the best Bulgarian movies as of late. There is a certain identity, character that is unique to this film that is lacking in other works of contemporary Bulgarian cinema.
A middle-aged man arrives with ten bottles of vodka in the dark and rainy Sozopol to stay in an old, almost crumbling family house. From the very beginning of the film, "The Sinking of Sozopol" (directed by Kostadin Bonev) there is the sense that something extremely unusual will happen.
A brave Sozopol is sinking and with it Chavo who wants to drown in the past with the help of large amounts of vodka. Fragmented memories race through his mind and give him no peace, along with the ghosts of the old house, a place he had hoped would give him solace from his troubles. His only solution is vodka – after drinking the tenth bottle, he conjectures "something will happen." What, no one knows, but it's better than the regrets and self blame he already suffers.
Kostadin Bonev’s film is inspired by the novel by Ina Valchanova, the co-writer of the film. And it’s no coincdience that it won the Golden Rose in 2014 for best screenplay!
The camera work by Konstantin Zankov is really masterful. He constructs an entirely new Sozopol - one that none of us has ever seen - Sozopol with rain and very few colors. Even interior shots speak rather of something lacking, not present. Sozopol has become a city where you go to die ("And where better than Sozopol?" - Is the question posed by Chavo).
To show Sozopol as a symbol of hopelessness is unusual and therefore even bold. For the main character Chavo (played by Donkov), the city is a symbol of youth, dreams, and love. He chooses this place to end his life, and it replies to him quite adequately, like a living being, with constant monotonous rain that seems to want to submerge everything. Kostadin Bonev’s film draws on the literature of the novel by Ina Valchanova and it’s no coincidence that the screenplay was its greatest strength (winner of the Golden Rose for Best Screenplay in 2014).
But it’s important to take note of the underwater images whose beauty contrast the clautrophobic elements of the narrative that happens on the surface. Under the water, the characters seem to have more air than above it.
But eternal rain doesn’t exist anywhere – the apocalyptic and ghostly atmosphere is pierced by a ray of hope upon drinking the final bottle of vodka, which in turn becomes a symbol of a miracle. Because sometimes in the most harsh and realistic human dramas, miracles save us from sinking.
"The Sinking of Sozopol" (screenplay by Ina Valchanova and Kostadin Bonev, directed by Kostadin Bonev) immerses viewers in a bright hopelessness, soaked in a lot of rain, vodka, and cigarette smoke ... It digs deep into the complicated family relationships, the accumulation of blame, wrong choices, and the reason for the desire of Chavo (played by Donkov) to get to the bottom of the last bottle of vodka.
While Chavo fights with his existential hopelessness, measured in ten bottles of vodka, an apocalyptic atmosphere of ceaseless rain, howling dogs, and decaying fish, he creates the surreal hypothesis about the sinking of the town. The sinking of that mythical Sozopol of the past, the one that has nothing to do with the present one. Sozopol becomes the last refuge of reality where scattered time, layered reality, and the surreal become one and then a miracle happens.
Marco Salieri (21) and Simona Petrova (23) are students in "Film Studies" at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. Katerina Lambrinova (25) is a student in the Master's program "Film and Television Arts” at NATFA which Rosen Spasov (27) has already completed, and is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Art Studies, BAS.
THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL - MOVIE
There are days in which the rain never ends and you think that it will last for days; there is no getting out of this dry. There are films that tell of lives filled with suffering, pain, separation, and great love.
"The Sinking of Sozopol" is one of these films. I watched it alone in a huge theater, which enhanced the experience even more. I had no expectations, I had not read reviews about it ahead of time, and I only came aroused by my interest for the latest in Bulgarian cinema on the big screen.
I do not know if you’ve had the opportunity to find yourself on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in a small town or resort out of season, when everything is desolate, cold, and without good conditions for going to the beach: There is wild romance on the empty beaches, in empty restaurants, and the empty streets, all while rain washes away the long memories of the previous season and soon everything is ready for the new.
Unfortunately this isn’t the case with the protagonist who seeks salvation precisely in the town of Salvation. He finds his memories, people, friends, feelings, and his great love.
With ten days and ten vodkas in the empty refrigerator he reminisces and seeks meaning. He who seeks finds, and impatient, gets what he wants; but will the time, place, and the company be appropriate? Keep watching and you will find out.
I do not want to distinguish anyone in particular, because the entire ensemble played well in this Bulgarian film. But I was pleasantly surprised with the appearance of Vasil Gurov as an actor, and his song in the film. Enjoy watching and listening!
Now I will send you off to the cinema. I do not remember whether I have shared this, but once upon a time I was a film girl, long before I became a book creature :) So today you'll let me go back to my old habits and present to you not a novel by Ina Valchanova called "The Sinking of Sozopol", but a film realization of the book that sticks in your mind and heart.. By all means go see the film. Not because it has won two awards "Golden Rose" (screenplay and best actress), but because it is worth each minute of your time ...
You find yourself in Sozopol. Early June. With ten bottles of vodka under your arm and a weight in your soul. You’re here for a purpose. Fixing old father’s eaves – the roof leaks. Do you believe yourself? And even more interesting, you imagine that others will believe you? The truth is, you're here for hunting ghosts. To swig alcohol and memories. To be enchanted. To enjoy the bitterness and pain crawling through your veins. For masochistic picking of (un)healed wounds - from the smallest scratch to that scar... You know that thick rough scar in the middle of your chest... You’ve come here to howl like a dog… Well, there is no sense to pinpoint your ultimate goal. Both you and I are fully aware of it. Only...look at that bright spot of paint that sometimes appears, then disappears, and does not leave you alone. Little nasty beast! It does not allow you to sink in the privacy of your own shit, I mean in its minor key mood. Look, it is not alone... reinforcements are coming! Ugh, more intruders... the worst kind - those who care. Who are concerned... The question is what do you do next. It’s late. The heavens keep crying over you. When will they stop drowning you in tears? Will they stop? And the vodka is running out ...
Did you like my description? I think and feel the film by Kostadin Bonev, since I walked out of the cinema. The final lines haunt me. Here are some of them (I’m not quoting exactly): "Close your eyes. What do you need to see the town for? You have it in your memories. Smell it. It still smells nice (at least the places they don’t fry donuts of course). Listen to it, it’s still there ..." So for more - buy your ticket :) Make yourself comfortable in a chair and enjoy all that is served up by the director and the wonderful actors Snejina Petrova, Svetlana Yancheva, Dejan Donkov, Stefan Valdobrev, Leonid Yovchev ... Dive into the beauty of the underwater world. Are you scared? All right. Sit on the cliffs for a moment and ask the Sea the question that bothers you the most. Or you can just be silent and stare at each other. Are you cool? Squat by the campfire, fuel it, help it to flare up, and let the guitar of Vassil Gurov and the band Review scramble / sort your emotions. Did it start raining? Follow the example of characters and wade in the water, face turned towards the rain. You don’t want to move from the shore? Then try the combination "melon-anchovy-thirsty, soft, susceptible lips." Walk your hands on the skin of your loved one and devote time to each tender, intimate little place. Dim the future kisses of the sun with your own. Walk exactly the path of the rays. Taste slowly. Soothing... Get charcoal, pen, eyeliner, lipstick - whatever you have on hand and begin to paint. The view in front of your eyes is intoxicating. You feel the need to preserve it. Choose canvas, use your imagination ... Participate in "The Sinking of Sozopol”...
“The Sinking of Sozopol” – Does the Rain Stop after the Tenth Bottle of Vodka?”
What do a house in the Old Town of Sozopol left to the ravages of time, a middle-aged man, and ten bottles of vodka have in common? The answer is simple – the past. The past, which leaves the house to fall apart alone and uninhabited, leaving the man to go back to his memories and to attempt to make sense of the chaos within them with the help of ten bottles of vodka. And once he’s finished them, he expects “that something has to happen.”
“The Sinking of Sozopol” is a film with no sugar-coating. It shows one human life with all the unpredictable abysses that open up, as well as our after-the-fact attempts to understand and change them. It shows true human weakness and the strength that we need to resign ourselves to things that are already etched in stone and cannot be erased. This is also the reason that the film is so realistic and, I believe, close to the viewer.
“The Sinking of Sozopol” is a mirror of our reality and more exactly – of one generation, with its specific life crises, which have affected every single life in one way or another, to some extent or another. There is art that flees from reality, idealizes it, so as to make existing within it easier, to make it more bearable, and other art, which shows it as it is. It puts a friendly arm around our shoulders and says – “Look, you’re not alone, you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last – we all pass through these storms.”
Sozopol, as shown to us by DOP Konstantin Zankov, is desolate, empty and gloomy – a world that has been built anew. Sozopol with lots of rain, few colors, little presence – a city where you go to die (“What better place than Sozopol?” Chavo asks). The shots – whether outside (gray, pale and symmetrical) or inside in the old house (with its melancholy paintings, unplastered walls and rough furnishing) – are exceptionally minimalistic and monochromatic. They show absence, rather than presence. I believe that even if they had been black-and-white, they could not have managed to convey that oppressive, doomed feeling more effectively.
Despite this, the ending is beautiful and moving. Something happens not after, but along with the tenth bottle of vodka. The path is discovered within others, and not in solitude. And while Sozopol is being swallowed up by an endless storm and slowly sinking into the sea, Chavo raises himself up out of ruin. He remains above the dark, all-encompassing water. The last bottle of vodka is drunk the fastest. And the rain doesn’t stop. But right at that moment, that doesn’t matter at all.
Under the Bridge Magazine, Sofia, 28.11.2014
“The Sinking of Sozopol: A Melancholy Message in a Bottle”
Deyan Donkov does a wonderful job in the role of the depressed architect, Chavo – a person who has long since missed the train for his own life. Torn apart by guilt over the death of his brother and parents, over a painful divorce, about his unfinished love affair with Neva, he feels just like a marionette whose strings have grown slack over the years and can no longer hold him up. The film resembles an old children’s mosaic, from which some of the structural elements have long since gone missing. And despite the fact that the story is slightly unclear, like a letter in a bottle whose ink has faded from the salt water, the fate of the whole group of friends gets under your skin and you can’t stop thinking about them. Where the words cannot be deciphered, you simply finish them for yourself or leave empty spaces, hoping nevertheless that someone will hear their desperate cries for help and that they will be waiting for the happy ending there, on the threshold of that old house in Sozopol.
Formalno, Sofia, №73/15.11.2014
“The Sinking of Sozopol” – The Other Possible Refuge”
The plot of “The Sinking of Sozopol” is like a fairytale: once upon a time there was a man who lost everything and decided to give himself a final chance. He went to Sozopol, taking with him ten bottles of vodka; when he finished the last bottle, the end of his life would come – or not. And indeed, the end of Chavo’s life comes in the form of a new beginning: through the people around him. All of his friends arrive in Sozopol and when the last bottle is drunk up, they are together again, but without the strange woman in red. Yet she is nevertheless there with the friends invisibly through her emails from the beyond.
Konstantin Zankov’s camera has caught loneliness, abandonment and at the same time the heavy warmth of a bygone time. The camera and the directing love the characters, they love rainy Sozopol, they love the stray dogs – the last ones left to greet sunrise and sunset. One of the final shots in “The Sinking of Sozopol,” in which the dogs are standing on the shore, sums up our life. It is spent in anticipation of the other, the unknown, and perhaps also death.
If we take Sozopol as a metaphor of our unrealized intentions, then Sozopol is also a metaphor for the possible future; for this reason, when Gina says farewell to the characters on the screen, she says that in Sozopol (in life – author’s note) there is no logic and after every sinking a new rising is possible, as long as we seek it. Everything is temporary, as are our places of refuge. The important thing is for us to be vigilant and present at the right place – then life (Sozopol – author’s note) will happen to us. For certain!
Guidebook for Cultural Hitchhikers, Varna, 17.10.2014