TIFF19: Carolyn Talks…with ‘The Father’ Writer and Director Petar Valchanov

Reading Time: 3 minutes
the Father
Still From The Father

Grief and humor are an odd emotional combo that humans experience when a loved one has died. If you’ve ever attended a funeral and something absurd happened and it made you laugh, then The Father by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchancov will be relatable, trust me, I know of what I speak. Following the death of his wife Valentina, Vassil (Ivan Savov) learns that she has been contacting the neighbor through the phone, and as someone heavily influenced by superstition, he goes on a trip to contact her. Concerned about the mental state of Vassil and Valentina’s son, Pavel (Ivan Barnev) reluctantly tags along to keep his father in check and hopefully persuade him to be realistic about the situation.

Though The Father has it’s moments of off-kilter humor, and wacky stunts –  like a hilarious chase scene involving a horse-drawn cart –  it’s easy to see that it’s a story about a father and son who are doing their best – and failing – to handle the sudden loss of a loved one. For Pavel, his search to find a medium may seem like he’s running towards Valentina, but in reality, he’s running away from his grief, and so is Pavel. Both men are consumed with guilt over how they could’ve been a better husband and father, and use the road trip as a distraction. Having a strained relationship with Vassil adds more stress to Pavel, who is dealing with difficult situations at home and work. For him, it seems like everything is falling apart and he’s a hair’s breadth away from having an emotional breakdown.

Greif is an emotion that takes time to process. It’s consumes and makes you question every word said, and action done towards the one we’ve lost, and like Vassil and Pavel learn, we can make it through to the other side to save the relationships we have now.


About The Directors

Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov are a writer-producer-director couple based in Sofia, Bulgaria. They first met at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts and have been working together ever since. In 2009 they cemented this collaboration into their very own production company Abraxas Film. Their goal – to produce shorts, features, and documentaries with memorable characters and gripping storylines that are equal parts amusing, upsetting and touching.

Kristina and Petar’s short film debut Jump (2012) became the first Bulgarian film ever nominated for the European Film Award. Their independent micro-budget feature debut The Lesson (2014) and its follow-up Glory (2016) went on to become two of the most acclaimed Bulgarian films of the 21st century, garnering numerous awards both at home and around the world. The titles are parts of the directors’ so-called Newspaper Clippings Trilogy of stories inspired by media sensations depicting the absurdity of life in post-communist Bulgaria. The final installment, Triumph, is currently in development.