May 2011

"Christmas Tree Upside Down"

by I. Cherkelov & V. Zhivkov, opens May 19, 2011

Two film stills from Christmas Tree Upside Down

Bulgarian filmmakers Vassil Zhivkov and Ivan Cherkelov use six different episodes – The Calf, The Wooden Angel, Socrates, The Sailing Boat, The Cellar, and The Drum - to create an impressive portrait of their home country’s landscape and people.

opA gigantic Christmas tree links together the individual episodes both narratively and symbolically. The tree is cut down in a winter forest at the beginning of the film, taken via road to the capital Sofia, and finally put up there as a public Christmas tree. Each short episode follows this half-alive, half-dead giant on its way and tells stories from the day-to-day lives of individual protagonists in a wealth of different locations in Bulgaria, moving from the mountains to the Danube and then on to the Black Sea.

Throughout the film, the directors show an unwavering interest in existential questions. How is it possible to live and die with dignity? What significance do parties and celebrations have in people’s lives? What is the “good life”? What pushes us on? This philosophical approach comes across most clearly in the “Socrates” episode. The film is like watching someone dance past you, a riot of the senses that uses opulent images to show what it is that brings people together, all accompanied by a rich soundtrack ranging from folklore to Eminem. A homage to life.

CHRISTMAS TREE UPSIDE DOWN
(Original title: OBARNATA ELCHA)
Country / Year:
Bulgaria/Germany 2006
Running time: 127 minutes
Format: 35mm and DigiBeta / 1: 2.35, Dolby Digital
Language: Bulgarian with German subtitles
Directors and script: Ivan Cherkelov & Vasil Zhivkov, Editor: Gergana Zlateva, Producer: Rossitsa Valkanova, Cast: Alexandra Vassileva, Slava Dojčeva / Slava Doycheva, Georgij Čerkelov / Georgi Cherkelov, Krassimir Dokov