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Belated Full Moon

Edouard Zahariev, one of Bulgaria's most prominent filmmakers ("Villa Zone," "The Hare Census"), died in June of cancer after completing the editing of this, his final film. It's a solid memorial to a director whose sharp sense of social conscience was always leavened by a winning sense of humor. Pic should be of interest to fest programmers, though commercial prospects for this kind of item are far from good.

With:
With: Itzac Fintzi, Virginia Kelmelite, Nikolai Urumov, Valery Drennyikov, Elena Lafanazova, Gergana Danova, George Cherkelov.

Edouard Zahariev, one of Bulgaria’s most prominent filmmakers (“Villa Zone,” “The Hare Census”), died in June of cancer after completing the editing of this, his final film. It’s a solid memorial to a director whose sharp sense of social conscience was always leavened by a winning sense of humor. Pic should be of interest to fest programmers, though commercial prospects for this kind of item are far from good.

In “Belated Full Moon,” Zahariev takes a fairly bleak look at the state of his nation in the mid-’90s via the microcosm repped by an old man, his son and his grandson. Communication between the generations is almost non-existent, exacerbated by the social changes that have rocked the country and that the son, especially, finds hard to cope with.

The old man lives with his son, but they frequently argue. He’s concerned that his grandson is heading for a life of crime (he’s been caught stealing). No wonder: his mother admits she doesn’t love him (“My maternal instincts are dead,” she says.) The son is impotent, and uses porno videos to become sexually aroused.

Leaving this bleak environment, the old man lives for a while in a home for the elderly but, stifled by the environment, escapes and teams with a couple of old friends in a foolish attempt to obtain money. He eventually winds up on the streets of Sofia, where everything is going to the dogs. Gangsters flourish, the poor are starving, Asian refugees are treated like animals.

Finally reduced to being a street person himself, the old man is found scrambling in the garbage by a former school friend just back from America where, naturally, he’s become a millionaire. He represents the ultimate entrepreneur who is clearly of little long-term use to the people of Bulgaria.

The film, which ends with catastrophic warfare, takes a very disenchanted point of view of the immediate future for this Balkan country. “It’s too late to save our children,” says the old man. “We must try to save our grandchildren.”

Yet, despite the bleakness of Zahariev’s vision, there’s a compensating humor and affection which makes the film’s strident message tolerable and touching. However, the introduction of a talking cockroach is not a terribly successful idea.

Itzac Fintzi gives a solid performance as the old man through whose eyes we are taken on a tour of a country in serious trouble. All technical credits are accomplished.

Belated Full Moon

Bulgarian-Hungarian

Production: An Edouard Zahariev Films-Bulgarian National Television (Sofia)-Budapest Filmstudio (Budapest) co-production. Produced by Eduard Zahariev. Directed, written by Edouard Zahariev.

Crew: Camera (color), Emil Hristov; editor, Kamen Ferdinandev; music, Kiril Donchev, Rossitsa Valkanova; production design, Borislav Radovanov; costumes, Borjana Mincseva; sound, Ivan Vencislavov. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, Feb. 9, 1997. (Also in Berlin Film Fest, Forum.) Running time: 112 MIN.

With: With: Itzac Fintzi, Virginia Kelmelite, Nikolai Urumov, Valery Drennyikov, Elena Lafanazova, Gergana Danova, George Cherkelov.

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