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LONDON — The web of lies woven by secret police gives Bulgaria’s Oscar nod Emil Hristov’s The Color of Chameleon great topicality both at home and in the U.S.
A darkly comic and compelling tale of a rogue Communist-era agent who builds a parallel spy network after his dismissal from state service, Hristov’s directorial debut reflects his long experience as a cinematographer.
Shot on 35 mm color stock graded to give it the gritty, almost black and white, feel of the 1980s, Hirstov — whose earlier credits as a director of photography include Stephan Komandarev’s The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner — brings a wealth of experience to his debut.
Released at a time when Bulgaria’s government is struggling to maintain control in a country rocked by political and social divisions sparked by the economic recession, the film touches absurd depths as its anti-hero Batka becomes involved in faked proposals for an outer-space spy agency and later conscripts dissidents to an invented unit that apparently aims to introduce state control of orgasms but has deeper, more subversive aims.
The film screened in the Discovery section at last year’s Toronto festival and picked up a special mention at Thessaloniki.
It was produced by Peripeteia Films, which is also handling international sales, with Nu Boyana, Bulgarian National Television and Restart Production.
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