Bulgaria has selected Ivaylo Hristov’s Fear (Страх) as its official submission for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards. Set in a Bulgarian village close to the Turkish border, Fear centers on a widow (Svetlana Yancheva) who encounters an African migrant (Michael Fleming) while hunting in the woods. She takes him in while he plots the remainder of his journey to Germany. The drama with comedic elements examines themes of inherent prejudice and simmering bigotry as the entire village, bracing for a wave of Afghani migrants, turns against the woman, demanding that the man leave. (Watch the trailer below.)
Hristov, who was one of the top Bulgarian theater and film actors of the 1990s before venturing into filmmaking, wrote and directed Fear. The movie won the top Golden Rose Award for Best Film at the 38th Golden Rose Bulgarian Film Festival where it also won for Best Actress (Yancheva) and took home the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers and Accredited Journalists’ awards. Additionally, Fear won the Grand Prix at the 2020 Tallinn Black Nights Film Fest.
Fear makes it two in a row for Hristov whose previous film as a writer-director, the 2015 Losers (Каръци), алсо was selected as Bulgaria’s official scar entry.
This is the second Bulgarian Oscar submission set at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and dealing with migrant crossings following The Judgement six years ago, which centered on a widower, played by Assen Blatechki.