News from the Locarno Festival

Pardo d'oro: GODLESS – Ralitza Petrova

Concorso internazionale

Ralitza Petrova


© Alessio Pizzicannella


Ralitza Petrova, what does it mean for you to win the Pardo d’oro with your first feature film, Godless?

It means a lot for a debut director. I think I have been very lucky to make this film now, and meet all these people with whom to share a passion and a taste for cinema that is challenging, and not just entertainment. I believe that cinema is not circus. I think we are entertained not purely by laughs, or gratuitous violence and sex. I think ideas and content is what is most entertaining.


Your film deals with a total loss of human values, which is unfortunately a universal subject these days.

I hope it will speak to a wider audience. I think moral values are going through a general crisis throughout the World. I am particularly honored to be recognized for telling a story that has an urgency, that has a relevance today.


Do you think filmmakers have a duty in telling these stories?

We need to be engaged and we have the responsibility as makers to be engaged with our subject and make those films. I think particularly in my country there is a general lack of certain things, and I think the scariest bit is that as a nation there’s a lack of law, lack of services, lack of values first and foremost, and it created an apathy – people believe that they cannot change anything, This apathy has killed self-belief, and when you don’t believe that you can change something, you become cynical. And cynicism further erodes your courage and ability to change, and it’s a vicious cycle and you just become a victim. There’s a lot of moaning going on, and the courage is lacking, because for courage you need self belief and for self belief you need values. This is what my film is really about, I hope it explores this subject clearly enough.


Will this award have a resonance in Bulgaria?

I really hope that the Bulgarian industry will acknowledge a certain wave in Bulgarian cinema, a new wave that is coming. It’s not only our film, but for example there was also another film in competition here in Locarno, Slava (Glory) by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, and there are other filmmakers that had recognition in recent yearsor that will have it in the future, because there are many powerful voices, and one thing unites all these people: their connection with authenticity and integrity. These are people that are not fakers, they are filmmakers with something to say, and I hope that this award given to me at Locarno, outside of our country, will convince the reluctant part of our industry to give these people support, which they haven’t received so far. It’s still a struggle to make these films.


Is there anyone that was essential in the making of your film, that you would like to thank or single out?

Well, it might be a bit trivial, but I would like to say a big thank you to my producer Rossitsa Valkanova – it hasn’t been easy, and our relationship has been challenged by this project, but we stuck together. She is really a person with a great passion for cinema, and great conviction and integrity. I think without her this film would not have existed in this shape. Of course I would have tried to make it despite all adversities, but it would have not been possible to achieve it in this form without her, and I really appreciated her help and support. I would also want to thank a few mentors that helped me throughout the process, like Marcel Beaulieu, who is a Canadian writer and script supervisor, a deep man with a great knowledge of life and poetic truth – the script achieved its most precise points after I worked with him, and there are many more… there are so many. I am grateful to all of them.


Massimo Benvegnù

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