Oscars: Bulgaria Selects Karlovy Vary Winner ‘Blaga’s Lessons’ For International Film Race

Stephan Komandarev’s Blaga’s Lessons (Уроците на Блага), which took the Grand Prix in the Crystal Globe Competition at 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival as well as the Best Actress Award for its star Eli Skorcheva, will be Bulgaria’s International Film submission for the 2024 Academy Awards.

The country’s selection committee picked the dark contemporary drama by an unanimous decision Thursday. The choice makes Komandarev the Bulgarian director with the most Foreign Language/International Film Oscar entries, three.

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He holds the distinction of directing the only Bulgarian submission to make the category’s short list with the crowd pleaser The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner in 2009. His migrant drama The Judgement competed in 2015.

Blaga’s Lessons, a Bulgarian-German co-production, is the third film in Komandarev’s trilogy about his country’s social ills which he embarked on following The Judgement. The first two films in the trilogy are the 2017 Directions and 2019 Rounds.

In Blaga’s Lessons, which Deadline’s review says “packs a punch not seen since Lars von Trier or Michael Haneke in their provocative prime,” a recently widowed elderly woman, Blaga (Skorcheva) falls victim to telephone scammers. Getting no help from the authorities, her bank and her estranged son after losing all her money, Blaga — whose name means “sweet” in Bulgarian — takes things into her own hands and turns the tables on the criminals who duped her.

Blaga’s Lessons marks a triumphant return to the screen for Skorcheva after a 30-year absence. She had a meteoric start, landing her first film tole in her early 20s as the lead of a movie that became a hit and made her a household name overnight. She was a major star in the 1980s with a string of film credits before pulling away from acting and changing careers in the early 1990s.


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