All about my son („Shooting Star“, Ly. Yonchev)

Lyubo Yonchev, a young Bulgarian director, screenwriter and producer, officially finishes his Balkan tour with a short film “Shooting Star” this September. Lyubo has travelled over 100 film festivals around the world with his film, and he won more than 35 awards for it. The greatest achievements of the “Shooting Star” are last year’s EFA nomination in the short film category, as well as awards at Worldfest Houston, Tirana International Film Festival and Jaipur Internacional Film Festival. The film will be shown at the Seanema Film Festival (Ulcinj, Montenegro) and the Short Film Festival (Ljubljana, Slovenia), which will take place from 28.8.2017 to 3.9.2017.

“Shooting Star” opens up with a sparkle of light, 18 years old Martin has run over a „shooting star“ with his car. Everything is okay, the car is intact, no one from the outside has seen what happened, it could all be a perfect crime, of course, if Martin’s five-year-old sister Alexandra makes a wish and tells nobody about the incident with a „shooting star“. Alexandra, like any other innocent five-year-old child, decides to tell her mother about an adventure with an unlucky star. And there begins the drama.

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Yonchev’s film explores the relationship between lethargic youth and endless motherly love. So on the one side, we have Martin’s immature approach to reality, his disinterest for his own problem, the fear of the consequences of what he has done. He is unable to admit that he run over a person and he is even less able to show empathy towards the victim. The central figure of Martin’s world is himself, everything revolves around him, he is not the one who made the mistake, he wasn’t caught, his life is endangered if someone finds out about the accident.

Martin’s self-obsession has roots somewhere, so the director confronts him with the character of his mother Lilly. And of course, Martin opens up and presents us the roots of his lethargy by attacking Lilly for being a silent mother for her whole life, for not standing for herself whenever something bad happened to her. Perhaps a silent mother can raise the silent child, but that doesn’t show her real face. We can see on Lilly signs of exhaustion from work we can figure out she is hardly self-supporting two children, but we don’t see any mental weakness in her. Lilly’s strength is reflected in the empathy towards an unknown victim and caring for her son, she is the one that is able to withstand physical pain and also to remain calm in front of her children when she learns that a victim of a traffic accident has passed away.

It is harder to talk about the film, outside the framework of the great scenario that Yonchev developed with his colleague Yassen Gennadiev. The biggest culprit for this is a kitchen scene that simply stands out from the rest of the film. This scene is too fast, the way the characters are positioned in a frame are unnatural and the highlight of this scene is the cameraman’s decision to align the frame while shooting.

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On the other hand, the film abounds in a bunch of great, emotion-packed scenes thanks to smart framing, high-quality colour selection, and music background. Most impressive scene of the film might be the tense action „one-shot“ in the hospital.

In the end, it is obvious that director Yonchev devoted more time to the script, especially in shaping the character of a mother. Lilly Mancheva is not a sophisticated ideal star mother we can see in the Almodovar or Dolan movies, she is embedded in the chaos of the real world and she decides to break the chains of silence she lives in. There is, in fact, the power of this film, the director gives us closure but not the conclusion, we have the opportunity to see mothers transition from weak (emotional), over neutral (calm) to strong (self-sacrificing) without diving into a fairy tale.


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