Activist38 is represented by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova who come from different backgrounds. Mina has substantial work experience in film, TV, and advertising, mainly in the UK as an animation director and line producer since 1996. Vesela is a numerous award-winning actress who has produced several theatre plays before gradually turning to film producing. The company was established after their teamwork on the documentary “Because of Her” in 2008.
The company is attracted to projects with strong political and social engagement as well as a hybrid form and mix between the genres. Activist38 is strongly present at international festivals and markets. It is a member of the EDN. Lead producer Vesela Kazakova took part in EMERGING PRODUCERS'13 and is EAVE'13 graduate, awarded with a scholarship.
Their authored documentary “The Beast is still alive” was completed in March 2016. It is awarded with IDFA Forum Award and was part of the work-in-progress forum LAST STOP TRIESTE in January 2016. The international premiere was at the 22nd Sarajevo Film Festival in August 2016, where the film was selected in the Documentary Competition. As a project, the film is supported by Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA for development, was pitched at the prestigious film forums as Sunny Side of the Doc in La Rochelle – Best Project Showcase - History, Zagreb Dox, Baltic Sea Forum, Robert Bosh Foundation, East European Forum, East Doc Platform where it received IDFA Forum Award and EDN Docs Thessaloniki. The film was developed at Rough Cut Service led by Iikka Vehkalahti. It is financed by the Bulgarian National Film Centre and it is a coproduction with the Bulgarian National Television and Nova Film-Bulgaria.
In 2014 the controversial film “Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Service" that Mina and Vesela released as authors created a lot of trouble for them and their company. They were subjected to harsh and lengthy institutional and personal attacks from their Film Centre, the film guild in Bulgaria and colleagues who vouched never to grant activist38 state subsidy again. EDN - European Documentary Network , EAVE and Cineuropa published support articles, which the Bulgarian Cinema Council demanded to be removed. VARIETY review by Jay Weissberg clarifies the controversy.
The film, that was refused state funding in the first place, observes the political hierarchy amongst artists and filmmakers in a totalitarian society as well as the destiny of animator Antony Trayanov/Uncle Tony. It broke all country's records for lengthiest cinema release of a documentary in Bulgaria being in the cinema for over 7 months.
It is a film that supports a strong cause and it creates history for its country. A group of Bulgarian intellectuals and writers created a webpage in support, prompting the public to sign in support of freedom of speech, expression and thinking in Bulgaria.
“Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Service” became part of AFI'14 selection “The Best of European Cinema” as well as important festivals including A-list ones. The film premiered at Sarajevo Film Festival in August 2014, followed by Warsaw IFF, Astra Film Festival, Festival Du Nouveu Cinema – Montreal, Cairo IFF and Trieste Film Festival and many others. It was the opening film for the Baltic Sea Forum'14. Mina and Vesela gave case studies regarding how a producer deals with controversial material at Ex Oriente'14 and Balkan Documentary Center'14.
The film has received so far ten international awards from five continents.
Activist38's completed animated short “Because of Mum”, directed by Antoaneta Chetrafilova, marks one of the successes from 2013 the company is proud with. The film was bought by ARTE G.E.I.E., to be broadcast in five countries, thus marking the first direct purchase from Bulgarian producers. It premiered in Stuttgart animation festival 2013 and it was officially selected for more than 40 festivals as Animafest, Zlin Film Festival, Sapporo amongst them. So far it won two Bulgarian Academy Awards 2013 for Best Debut and Best Director; Best Short and Best Animation at Phoenix Comicon festival, USA; Best Artistic Solution at “Dytiatko” Film Festival – Ukraine, Best Film: Europe 3rd place - Anim!Arte Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Special mention at Valle d'Itria Film Festival, Puglia, Italy and Special mention at Athens Animfest 2015.
Another short animation “Margarit and the Monster" is currently in production. The film is 6 minutes debut of Nayden Nikolov, supported by the Bulgarian National Film Centre which premiere is expected in 2017.
The animated documentary “River Tales ” with the new title “Cosmonauts like Chewing Gum", supported by CE's MEDIA was developed at BDC Discoveries'13, selected for DOK Leipzig Co-production Market'14 and after its pitch at Power to the Pixel in London 2014 the project received Special mention. It was participating in the Ex-Oriente 2015 workshop finalizing with a successful pitch in Prague in March 2016. The film is directed by Veselina Dashinova and Aline Helmcke - two RCA (Royal College of Arts, London) graduates from Bulgaria and Germany, and it is a co-production with the Celluloid Fabrik – Germany, supported by MDM funding for development.
Activist38 develops three fiction projects – “Sisters”, “Pancho and Alice” and “Cat in the wall”. “Sisters” developed at Film TEEP (Romania/Manheim) was recently supported by the Bulgarian National Film Centre and it is entering production in 2017. “Pancho and Alice” is a Bulgarian-German co-production, awarded Best Project at Sofia Meetings'12, MFI'12 scholarship, and Cannes Producer's Network Participation in 2012. “Cat in the wall” consists of 4 fiction series of 27 minutes each.
Produced by Activist38:
2016 “The Beast is still alive” – 91 min documentary
2014 “Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Service” – 86 min documentary
2013 “Because of Mum” – 12 min animation
2010 “Where is your head” - 7 min short fiction,
2008 “Just so Darwin” - three episodes from the animated series for BBC 2 with Glasshead limited, London
2008 “Because of her” – 58 min documentary premiered at Sofia Film Fest 2008; broadcasted on the Bulgarian National Television; East Silver - Documentary Film Market - Jihlava, Czech Republic, 2008
Awards & Nominations:
• 2015 “The Beast is still alive”
IDFA FORUM AWARD 2015 at East Doc Platform Pitch, Prague
• 2014, 2015 “Uncle Tony, Three Fools and the Secret Service”
Best Director at Berlin International Film Festival
Royal Reel Award from Canada International Film Festival
Bronze Palm from Mexico International Film Festival
Women D/P Finalist Documentary at Florida Movie Festival
Award of Merit: Documentary Feature from the Accolade Global Film Competition;
First place in "Art" category at the International Heritage Film Festival "Idols";
Honorable Mention at Trindie Fest Film Festival, Colorado, United States;
Best Feature Documentary at 8th Bushwick Film Festival, New York;
Best Documentary at Phoenix Film Festival, Melbourne;
Country Best Award from International Open Film Festival.
3 nominations at the Bulgarian Film Academy Awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Sound
• 2013, 2014, 2015 “Because of Mum”
Special Jury Mention for good artistic solution at the 6th International Television Festival “Dytiatko”, Ukraine;
Best Film: Europe 3rd place - Anim!Arte Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;
Special mention - Valle d'Itria Film Festival, Puglia, Italy;
Best Short Film and Best Animation at Phoenix Comicon festival, USA; Best Debut and Best Director for Antoaneta Chetrafilova at the Bulgarian Academy Awards 2013;
Special mention - Athens Animfest 2015
• 2012, 2013 “Pancho and Alice”
Best project Award at Sofia Meetings;
MFI'12 - scholarship
EAVE'13 – scholarship
• 2010, 2011 “Where is your head”
Honourable Mention of the Jury at the 17th International Festival of Local Televisions „Golden Beggar“, Košice, Slovakia;
Audience Award - 60 Seconds Short Film Festival in Copenhagen