Viktoria

 

Viktoria

Director: Maya Vitkova
Country: Bulgaria/Romania
Year: 2014
Running time: 155 min

Presented with the support of

New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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VIKTORIA

“[VIKTORIA is] one of the great recent films by women about women, and it casts Vitkova to the forefront of contemporary filmmakers...a treasure of the current cinema.” - Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Maya Vitkova’s stunning debut feature Viktoria, which had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last year, follows three generations of women in the final years of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the early years of the transition to democracy. The film focuses on reluctant mother Boryana and her daughter, Viktoria, who in one of the film’s surreal, magical touches is born without an umbilical cord. Though unwanted by her mother, Viktoria is named the country’s Baby of the Decade, and is showered with gifts and attention until the disintegration of the East Bloc. Despite throwing their worlds off balance, the resulting political changes also allow for the possibility of reconciliation. Vitkova wrote, produced and directed Viktoria, making it both personal and universal, and demonstrating a precocious command of all elements of the filmmaking process. Especially impressive is the film’s visual sensibility and its command of a range of shifting tones, from absurdist humor to political allegory to deeply moving familial drama.

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REVIEWS

“Playfully epic…often surreal…impressively shot… a fascinating glimpse into the country’s transition from communist days through to a brave new world…Maya Vitkova certainly makes a great impact with her first film. She is a talent to watch. ["Viktoria"] is a bold and ambitious attempt to distill several decades of Bulgarian change and upheaval set against her plot’s often surreal structure, and there are moments when she really pulls off great visuals and strong ideas…always challenging and intriguing.” –Mark Adams, Screen Daily

Viktoria envisions an entirely new grammar for female body functions onscreen as it bares all… uses an unusually humorous approach to portray a real maverick character on film, the reluctant mother…Viktoria has no interest in normalizing its unrepentant mother and traumatized daughter with a tidy denouement, nor does it cue a familiar audience reaction. Whatever strange comedy we find in the image of an unwanted child innocuously floating in the womb is our own. This makes Viktoria an active and ambiguous moving picture experience, one that keeps us on the edge of our seats…from an attempt at understanding this character and our reactions to her… Viktoria does not seek to conquer its radical character, nor the audience. Its appeal lies [in] how its impressionistic experience stretches the boundaries of empathy for an unusual female figure.”  –Katie Kilkenny, indiewire

"Viktoria is an impressive and ambitious first feature…In spite of a small budget, Viktoria looks like the effort of an impressive team of art directors and costume designers. Although it's her first feature, Vitkova has managed to control and organize a great array of resources, sweeping through three decades of Bulgarian history and using visual context in order to show her characters' feelings, needs, disappointments and desires.Viktoria is a new festival hit for Bulgarian cinema.” –Stefan Dobroiu, Cineuropa

“Striking…The general tone is one of hushed poetry and quiet drollness with an occasionally absurdist edge. Crucially, the film doesn't want to be funny simply to avoid being constantly bleak; quite the contrary is true, as humor is used to highlight the very points Vitkova is trying to make...The understated acting of the ensemble is matched by its austere and precise assembly on the technical side… Beautifully composed, diffusely lit cinematography…” –Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter

“Maya Vitkova’s Viktoria manages to say a lot in very few words… Vitkova’s lyrical imagery elevates her semi-autobiographical debut to poetic heights… Acerbic and absurdist in equal measure, the film forges a powerful metaphorical link between the physical body and the body politic...The deft humor in the script comes through the absurdity of the situations Vitkova presents us with, utilizing and satirizing the visual rhetoric of era-appropriate political propaganda…Irmena Chichikova as Boryana steals the screen. With deep set eyes and razor sharp cheek bones that recall Charlotte Rampling in her heyday, she’s not only striking to look at but subtly expressive. Though she puts on a stoic front, her final scene hints at the deep and invisible motivations of her character…” –Emma Myers, indiewire

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