VENCI KOSTOV | BULGARIA + SPAIN | 2023 | 109 MIN | BULGARIAN S.T.-F.
In Bulgaria’s first LGBT2SQ+ film, Victor returns to the Balkans after a 12-year absence, giving voice to his by turns paradisiacal and painful past as we watch a young Roma man burn down his present. When the two meet, passion kindles, and two disparate worlds become enmeshed.
Plagued by issues around fatherhood and accustomed to fleeing entanglement, 27-year-old Victor (David de Gea) has a much older lover in Madrid, but is drawn to the pushy, erotically charged 18-year-old Liuben (Bojidar Iankov Asenov), who himself has a son on the way. Given Liuben’s ambiguous sexuality and his precarious position as an orphan labelled harshly with racial epithets, the nature of his interest in Victor is mired in economic and emotional complexity. Nevertheless, Victor cannot resist, and his attraction will bring him face to face with lives lived at the margins. The two men clinging to one another, but both afraid of what a fellow loner might do. With a warts-and-all approach that encompasses the sun-dappled seduction and brutality of a remote village, filmmaker Venci Kostov places a singular, physical tale of romantic desire in a larger structural framework of social division.