Chris Zahariev is one of those young people who know how to make the most of their time. He is a director, vlogger, traveler and wonderer of the world. What we experience in his films is pure love towards all things real, authentic, true to their nature. Chris has also published a book, been on the red carpet in Cannes, created his own streetwear brand that supports social causes around various villages in Bulgaria, made an admirable amount of music videos, commercials, told many stories and he just graduated from the National Academy of Theater and Film Arts in Sofia last year.
“Lost on Purpose” is both a documentary web series Chris made in 2018, and a book he published in 2019. It focused on Chris and two of his best friends going on an unplanned journey across Bulgaria. This web series gained a lot of traction and earned him a prestigious national award. In 2019, he was also awarded the “Most Prominent Young Person of Bulgaria” prize by TOYP International.
Some of Chris’ more recent short films include Wild Garlic (2019), which will be screened at Bulgarian Bliss, and One Elevator Apart (2021).
Quite an unbelievable personal journey. We have many questions. Here’s what Chris replied, when we asked him some of them:
Out of all the projects you have worked on so far, which one is the most challenging? What was initially hard for you to deal with?
Each project brings its own challenges. In fact, if a project doesn’t challenge me creatively, it’s not that interesting. It is challenges that make us look for solutions, to build bridges, to go beyond the boxes, to develop. Every movie, music video, online project seems impossible in the beginning, but this is the coolest part. You start swimming against the tide from the very first day.
What is special (unique, difficult, absurd) when you make a film in Bulgaria? What do you think are the most distinctive features of our national cinema as a whole?
Making a film in Bulgaria is an adventure. Especially if you and your whole team are young people, it’s the Wild West! Everything is possible here! Closing central streets without permission, stopping cars, calling the biggest actors, who are only one phone away and most of all there is a place to prove yourself, there is a lot that could be built. Since the most striking examples of contemporary Bulgarian cinema are mostly post-social dramas (not bad films, but similar as worldviews), respectively, everything different manages to make noise. But I am interested in different concept. I film in the field, tell the stories of ordinary people with big dreams, create happy endings and movies that make you feel alive.
Have you ever violated your moral code because of a project? If so, would you tell us more?
No. Very often I have been faced with the moral choice of whether to compromise with myself and what I am fighting for in this world, but I have always gathered the strength to say no. The last time it happened to me, it was probably the hardest “no” I’ve ever said. Due to my background with film, web and TV projects, I was invited to a meeting with one of the leading online betting companies in Bulgaria. They were starting a spectacular project for a new platform and they wanted me to direct and be the creative producer of all their internet content. For working for them for just 2 months I was offered the amount of money that I would otherwise have earned in one year. With this salary I could easily buy a nice new car and still have money left after that. But I wouldn’t be able to sleep peacefully. Gambling was not something I wanted to promote. Today, I still drive my 20-year-old car that has no heating system in the winter, but my conscience is clear.
What (if there is such a factor, of course) do we lack in Bulgaria in order to complete more successful, high-quality and meaningful audio-visual projects to be viewed outside the country’s borders?
I think there is such a factor, yes. I think the moment we stop trying to look like everything but us, success will come. Because we as a nation have a very interesting, rich visual culture. We are not just situated between the East and the West; we are the East and the West. If we look for a moment at contemporary South Korean cinema – in the last few years it has entered the mainstream, not because it looks American, but vice versa – because it is 100% what it is. A window to their culture, problems, characters. And it’s interesting to watch. We can open such a window, too. And we have so much to talk about. Courage, history, entrepreneurship and love. I believe it will happen to our generation. It’s already happening now.
That is why we from FASE invite you on a one-to-one with this multitalented artist, who sees the light in the world and reinvents the concept for the contemporary young creatives.
Book you tickets for the screening event and the Q&A here.