Eastern Plays (2009): Kamen Kalev’s Debut, Look at Sofia’s Underground Youth Life

Cannes Film Fest 2009–Shot in five weeks in Sofia and Istanbul, Kamen Kalev’s debut Eastern Plays, a look at Sofia’s underground youth life, screens at Director’s Fortnight before its fall release in Bulgaria.

“The entire crew felt a special energy that seemed to appear from nowhere,” Kalev said of the shoot.

Kalev previously directed commercials and (with Dimitar Mitovski) two shorts: Get the Rabbit Back in 2005 and Rabbit Troubles in 2007, both selected by the Critics Week in Cannes.

Kalev said that, “Just waiting for national subsidies did not produce anything serious,” so he started to promote Eastern Plays on his own, first at the Sofia Meetings, then at the Sarajevo CineLink co-production market. Two happy encounters – one with the Turkish actress Saadet I??l Aksoy (“Egg”, Semih Kaplano?lu) that “clarified the story” and an other with the private investor Anguel Christanov, “who practically financed most of the shooting,” made the film possible without the help of the state. Subsequently Eastern Plays turned into a Bulgarian-Swedish co-production with national co-producers WaterFront Film (owned by Stefan Piryov & Kamen Kalev) and Anguel Christanov for Bulgaria and the Stockholm based post facilities company Chimney Pot financed by the Film i Väst regional fund for Sweden. The 80/20% co-production, coming in at under €700,000, was picked up by Memento Films as sales agent.

Production credits

Scriptwriter and director – Kamen Kalev

Director of Photography – Julian Atanasov

Set decorator – Martin Slavov

Score music – Jean-Paul Wall

Sound  – Momchil Bozhkov, Boris Trayanov

Editing – Kamen Kalev, Stefan Piryov, Johannes Pin

Producers –  Stefan Piryov, Kamen Kalev, Fredrik Zander

Co-Producers – Anguel Christanov, Thomas Eskilkson

Executive Producer – Maya Vitkova


Itso – Christo Christov

Georgi – Ovanes Torosian

Isil – Saadet I??l Aksoy

Niki – Nikolina Yancheva

Georgi and Itso’s father – Ivan Nalbantov

Georgi and Itso’s stepmother – Krasimira Demireva

Isil’s mother – Hatice Aslan

Isil’s father – Kerem Atabeyoglu