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Ana-Maria Petrova between the thorns and the flowers of Via Egnatia

22 August 2011 / 16:08:15  GRReporter
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The director Nikolai Mashchenko found me when I was a teenager. They had begun to prepare this particular film The Road to Sofia based on the novel by Stefan Dichev and there were screen tests. I was already in the group of actors at the Cinema Center and they started to call us. I had not completed my secondary education yet and I went to the screen tests. In fact, he chose me among (I saw the statistics later) 300 and more girls. I even remember when he said, "you are a true Bulgarian." The funny thing is that later in Italy they said I looked like a true Sicilian or something from Southern Italy. No one knows what is in the blood and what went wrong over the centuries. So, Nikolai Mashchenko, who is one of the most eminent Ukrainian film directors and was the manager of the Belzhenko film studios in Kiev, found me. He had undertaken to make this mega-production - five television series, but also a film version of The Road to Sofia and then I met the very Stefan Dichev, who was an idol for all Bulgarians. People like him as a writer very much and he has many successful novels.

What is the strongest memory from the filming of The Road to Sofia?

I was engaged with the film for five months. Perhaps my strongest memory is the first day of shooting in a church in Plovdiv. My first day of shooting was a scene right from the third series - you know that the film does not follow the script chronologically and then I was dressed in these beautiful costumes of that era and I have pictures from that time. I'm in the frame with one of the main characters who played the French Consul – the prominent Georgian actor Otar Koperidze and he had to be my fiancé in the film – Nedda’s fiancé. There was a priest and the director rushed in front of the camera, because we started to prepare for the rotation of the camera and said, "And now we have to congratulate our young actress so and so" with flowers. I have a picture of exactly the moment when the director gives me the flowers and I was very excited, I even think that tears came into my eyes.

Then, there were other very interesting and difficult moments because in one of the test screens - I think I went twice to test screens with camera, the director had to cause a dramatic reaction in me and at one point I had to cry. And while I was saying the text, the scene was made so that there was even a torch, and even it all was unnatural on the second picture, he placed the torch in front of my face. I got into the mood and at this point the torch had provoked a very strong dramatic effect and I cried. He said, "OK, then you can do it." And this unlocked my ability to cry when I have to. It is very difficult for you to cry, but the dramatic moment, the tears, should be in the right time, not earlier. And then, if the retake is repeated you have to prepare again. But you learn. It is enough to have that intensity and then everyone finds a way technically.

What has your relationship with the cinema evolved over the years? Did you have the chance to participate in other major productions?

Yes, of course. I started very early in Bulgaria. After The Road to Sofia I made a few things: a film of our great film director Vili Tsankov, also a film of Vasil Mirchev and the second film of Nicholas Maschenko was Karastoyanov Brothers, also a tragic epic about the September uprising. Then, I married and my daughter was born and I stopped for a while. I stopped forcibly in order to be with her during her first four years and then gradually I started accepting commitments, the first of which was a German-Bulgarian Western, which sounds strange. It was for the East German television. We shot in Potsdam and in Bulgaria. It's about the Mexican history and about an important moment in the history of Mexico – the uprising against the French domination in Mexico and I played the daughter of one of the candidates for president of the local people. I was such a very strong and femme fatale. There were many scenes on horses ... and we were several Bulgarian actors and several German actors and Gojko Mitic, Djoko Rosich and Nikola Donchev, who perished and who was a very good Bulgarian actor. There were two big series for the German television and the Bulgarian one, of course, it was a co-production.

The next year was my debut in Italy and then with a fiction series of 13 series for the Rai 1 channel, of an Italian director.  My favourite Bulgarian television director, who is also not alive - Svetozar Atanasov - introduced me to him. So, the Italian director called me and said that they started shooting a film and he would like to introduce me to his colleague, because the second director was Bulgarian. And the Italian has decided that I was very appropriate for one of the main roles. That was my debut in Italy. The series was called Golden Years - 13 series for Rai 1 and the Bulgarian National Television.

Then, I started to play primarily in films, and some other fiction films, and after that Octopus 7 came. The series of the Octopus are 10. For the first time there appeared Stefan Danailov and we were partners, and Raul Bova, who replaced Michele Plachido as Plachido’s character died and a new commissioner came. And that was the official debut of Raul Bova not only in Octopus, but in Italy. He became a great actor already, one of the best young actors in Italy. Then my other commitments followed with Lina Vert Muller, except Luigi Perelli’s Octopus.

Tags: Ana-Maria PetrovaThorns and Flowers of the Via EgnatiaThe Road to SofiaPoetryCinema
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