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.
Kaloyan Bozhilov studied Cinematography at NATFA, Sofia. DoP of such feature-length films as Ága (2017, East-West Golden Arch, Macao IFF & Awards, Golden Rose 2018, RAVAC IFF) and Alienation (2013) by Milko Lazarov, a number of shorts, of episodes of The Blue Birds Island TV series (dirs. KristinaGrozeva, Petar Valchanov); of such documentaries as Searching for Spisarevski (dir. Adela Peeva), East of Еden (dir. Stephan Komandarev), etc.
Q: What are you doing now during self-isolation at home? Are you making the best use of your time?
A: I was working from before the lockdown on several projects to apply for public funding. March was devoted to reading screenplays, doing shot-by-shot breakdowns and the visual styles of future films. On fine days, I am doing agricultural work in the garden of the house and in the evenings, I read books and watch movies.
Q: At what point of your work were you caught up in the COVID-19 crisis?
A: This year began successfully with two projects requiring trips abroad with B2Y Production Company. Several trips to Pakistan and Africa and a music video, which had to be made in Bulgaria in March, April and May, were cancelled and impossible to be resumed for the time being. Work was in fact put to halt. The premiere of the picture Dante’s Paradise by Dimitar Radev was postponed for nobody knows how long.
Q: How did the pandemic change your everyday life, professional agenda and decisions?
A: As for my life, the lockdown restrictions on the freedom of movement provided me with enough time to rethink and reasses the life experience gained from everything I had achieved for the time being.
Creatively, I also got time for preparationg and research on my future projects. What I miss presently is on-set work.
Q: Do you have a room of your own to work in or you find it difficult to isolate yourself, taking care of young children or students?
A: I am not having difficulty finding a place of my own to work in. I love to have connection with nature and the place I live in provides me with such a comfort.
Q: What smouldering problematic subjects surfaced as a result of self-isolation and with all activities across Bulgaria and the world cancelled?
A: In the earliest days of the lockdown I was pleasantly surprised how much national media talked about culture. I paid special attention to Hristo Botev Radio, who every day talked about films, theatre, music literature and all forms of art. They had interviews with exceptionally interesting interlocutors.
This along with the developments befallen us made me think a lot. I focused on my area, filmmaking.
Though being a member of all possible associations, unions and organizations, I clearly realised how divided filmmakers are. I see the main reason for this in the lack of a long-term, systematic and consistent governmental policy for our sector. We are in want of clear rules and a body controlling the processes. I often converse with colleagues from abroad and see the big picture of how the governments of Germany, France, Italy, Turkey and other countries are supporting them right now.
Q: Your opinion about the impact on creative and research quests and the long-term implications?
A: Art will further exist regardless of the situations. What matters now is to take the future into consideration. For art rears the next generations. In this context, the policy pursued by the government is important.
Q: Where do you expect to get support in the declared state of emergency over Covid-19?
A: In my capacity as a freelancer I hoped that the government would support those working in cultural and creative industries. I expected from the Ministry of Culture to act more adequately, but I despaired of the protracted process of decision-making.
Q: What about the therapeutic role of art in the resocialization after the pandemic ends?
A: Art has supported us since the earliest days of the lockdown. Books, films, music came to our rescue while staying at home behind closed doors and deprived of social gatherings. Art shall always provide strong support in human relationships by giving morals and being a corrective to hysteria, fear and evil.
Q: Any ideas about how to resume this country’s cultural activities after the end of the pandemic?
A: A long-term strategy should be worked out for the development of culture and education. The problems that are surfacing now result from years of neglecting the sector, rather than from the pandemic alone. It is important to invest in the development of this country’s cultural environment. It is the government who should create favourable conditions for artists’ existence. By neglecting the rearing of educated and elevated people, we would doom humanity to self-destruction.