By Marc Ciafardini
FAITH, LOVE AND WHISKEY
Friday, April 13 @ Angelika 8
Saturday, April 14 @ Angelika 8
You can never go home: at least that’s the saying. But if you could, what would you do?
In FAITH, LOVE AND WHISKEY, writer/director Kristina Nikolova shows us that returning to your homeland is possible, but it can drastically and irreparably change your life. In her first feature, the Bulgarian-born Nikolova recounts a fictional trip back to Sofia one summer that is “taken to an extreme, with an added life choice.”
In the film, Neli (Ana Stojanovska) is a Bulgarian immigrant living in New York City. Engaged to successful man and living in Manhattan, she’s living the American dream. But the smallest thing can make you yearn for the life you left, and Neli succumbs to the urge and ventures back, where she finds her old friends doing exactly what they were doing when she left for America: drinking, dancing and living life. As comfort and camaraderie greet her, so do the romantic feelings for her ex, Val, and the more time she spends with him, the more distance she puts between her and her fiancé.
But then her intended shows up unannounced, and Neli must decide what she really wants and who she really wants to be with.
“Bulgaria has a high immigration rate, and every summer the country gets filled with émigrés flowing back,” Nikolova said. “We drink and dance and behave like there is no tomorrow, which is the daily life of a lot of Bulgarians.
“On one hand I wanted to capture those days of abandonment and freedom. On the other hand I wanted to deal with a girl faced with a tough choice—the possibility for a future and a responsibility to her family versus a destructive love.”
The story focuses on the slow moments that lead up to that fateful decision, accentuated by soulful acting from Stojanovska and Bulgarian star Valeri Yordanov as Val. But Nikolova uses her extensive cinematography experience to craft a moving photo album of a film that opts to tell its tale through Neli’s reactions and emotions rather than through weighty, over-dramatic dialog.
Not surprisingly, the title is as poetic and meaningful as the film itself. “In Christian Orthodox religion, there is the popular trinity of sisters Faith, Love and Hope, whose mother is St. Sofia [the namesake of Bulgaria's capital],” Nikolova said. “But in Bulgaria as well as many other places in the world, for the youth, hope is replaced by whiskey.”
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