Platform for Arts, Institute of Art Studies, BAS, did a series of exclusive interviews with this country’s leading artists and art historians about how does it feel to make art amid the coronavirus pandemic, about its impact on culture and long-term implications.
Ilian Djevelekov is a Bulgarian film director/writer/producer; studied at NATFA, in the classes of Acad. Ludmil Staikov; as a student contributed as a director for the Coo-coo student TV show. In 2001, co-founded Miramar Film Company with Matey Konstantinov and Georgi Dimitrov, who produced Zift (2008, dir. Yavor Gardev) and a number of coproductions, the latest of which was Pelican Blood (2019, dir. Katrin Gebbe). Love.net (2011) was his directorial feature debut. His sophomore film Omnipresent (2017) won Golden Rose for Best Feature Film, Bulgarian Feature Film Festival, Varna 17.
Q: What are you doing now in self-isolation at home? Are you making the best use of your time?
A: I am mainly working on the screenplay of The Portal, BNT series of 6 episodes and the shooting under the contract is scheduled for the end of the summer.
Q: At what point of your work were you caught up in the COVID-19 crisis?
A: Just at the right moment when I needed more time for isolation and concentration.
Q: How did the pandemic change your everyday life, professional agenda and decisions?
A: In the order most common in a lockdown: with our office closed and most of our current projects put on hold.
Q: Do you have a room of your own to work in or you find it difficult to isolate yourself?
A: I have a study and some experience in social isolation J.
Q: What smouldering problematic subjects surfaced as a result of self-isolation and with all activities across Bulgaria and the world cancelled?
A: The problematic economic, social, cultural, political and so on subjects that surfaced are many indeed and seeing nothing but these, the picture seems even gloomier. Approaching from a different angle though, there may well be a positive dimension to the global collapse. With all that complacency, greed, consumerism and sense of untouchability, that have possessed people almost across the board, the ‘crown’ will bring us down to earth. These allegedly relevant and dominant until recently ‘values’ are now bubbling up to the surface with all their untenability. Such crucibles are followed by purification…
Q: Your opinion about the impact on creative and research quests and the long-term implications?
A: A negative reflection on these processes is predictable: the expected economic recession will put to the test the existence of cultural structures, organizations, events, artists. On the other hand, the best environment for creative and research quests usually boils down to an opportunity and time for concentration and becoming engrossed in work. Who knows, maybe with the end of this Covid(eo)-19 really ‘a new Renaissance shall come after the Middle Ages we are deeply steeped in’, as journalist Sonia Momchilova wrote recently…
Q: Where do you expect to get support in the declared state of emergency over Covid-19?
A: There is a very popular story about a moment in the UK’s history, which is highly topical right now. In WW2, when Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding to support the war effort, he replied: ‘Then what are we fighting for?’ I hope that the government will be farsighted enough to provide long-term support for arts and cultural professionals, rather than just give one-off grants as usual.
Q: What about the therapeutic role of art in the resocialization after the pandemic ends?
A: By providing reflections on and insights into what has befallen us help people not just recognise their own new experience, but also open up new horizons towards the meaning and promises of human life.
Q: Any ideas about how to resume this country’s cultural activities after the end of the pandemic?
A: Apparently, turbulent times lie ahead. It will be very difficult to implement new projects or resume those held in abeyance because of the Covid-19; many arts and cultural professionals will be desperate to get a job as soon as possible. The worst-case scenario is that of looming bankruptcies, layoffs, liquidations and merciless unfair struggle to earn a living. In the best-case scenario, the community of those working in the creative and cultural industries would join efforts to help each other, businesses and patrons would further support arts and culture, and it would be brought home to the government that cultural life would hardly resume without categorical public support.