This March, the Film of the Month coincided with the Audience Award, with both awards going to All Through the Night. Kiril Todorov, who also picked up a prize for Best Director, is no stranger to TMFF – he won Best Screenplay for his previous short film, Annie’s Birthday, back in June 2016. We sat down with him to find out more about his newest project.
JL: Kiril, first of all it’s nice to welcome you back to TMFF. We loved Annie’s Birthday, and can’t believe that was almost four years ago!
Kiril: Yes, it is great to be back for me as well, TMFF is one of my favorite festivals!
JL: What inspired you for All Through the Night? What did you have first, the idea, the character dynamics or the setting?
Kiril: Actually the movie is based on a legend that Tomas Pokorny, the producer of the movie, told me one day after his journey around Czech Republic. I immediately recognized in it a Bulgarian legend, and after some research we found out this legend is known in most of the European countries. So we decided to make our own interpretation of this legend.
JL: How does the historical setting and its geographical setting allow you to develop the plot?
Kiril: We decided to base the adaptation around the two World Wars, just to give more authentic feeling. And yes, we are not giving details for the year, location or anything connected to actual events, but we still used props and costumes, and that helped us shape the story and think of real motivations for the characters.
JL: You filmed in the Czech Republic, but decided to use English as the main language of your film. What was the decision-making process behind this?
Kiril: I have always tried to make my movies international and writing and directing them in English helps a lot. While living in Bulgaria that wasn’t quite possible, when I moved to Czech Republic, I saw the opportunity to connect with more American or British actors and make my movies in English. That was the case with the first film we shot in Czech Republic – The Principal – and I decided to keep it that way.
JL: Bob Boudreaux was recognised with the Best Actor distinction for his wonderfully layered performance – our congratulations to him! Have you worked with him before?
Kiril: This was our first project to work together, but he is an amazing actor and we are planning to do more movies together! I like how open he is for different roles and characters, and that we can freely experiment with him.
JL: Well done for winning Best Director, as well! How much do you feel that you’ve evolved your craft over the past couple of years?
Kiril: Definitely a lot. I consider last year a turning point in my career as a director – shooting All Through The Night and The Architect – another movie that is about to be released this year as well. While shooting the previous movies I always felt they are still a bit like student projects – still a lot to learn about the process, the directing, even shaping my own style. But when we shot All Through The Night, I already felt different from the start – for the first time I felt in control of the process as well as my creative vision and style. Big reason for that is of course the great team in both movies, I was surrounded by like-minded people, who gave me an enormous support to follow my vision to the fullest. And of course I still have a lot to learn to follow my path as a director, but I already feel I have done a big step forward.
JL: All Through the Night also won our Audience Award! You’ve opted for a powerful, open-ended finale that was perfeclty executed, at least in our opinion. How have audiences usually responded to it?
Kiril: Well, a lot of the viewers are trying to believe for a possible positive ending, but to be frank, they all know this movie, even with an open ending, cannot exactly relate to a happy end. But indeed it is fascinating to hear all possible scenarios people think after watching the movie.
JL: Are you using the coronavirus lockdown in order to work on more ideas, or did it catch you in a more advanced stage of a future project?
Kiril: The situation involved me indeed in some small projects I decided to shoot during lockdown – more like home videos about staying home, or promos. But I was already involved in a number of projects before this whole thing started, and we are still working on their development. But who knows, maybe in the future I can use this lockdown as an inspiration for a movie.
JL: We’d love to see more of your work in the future, Kiril! Until then, we wish you good health and all the best!
Kiril: Thank you, all the best to the festival as well!