The Late Show
Bulgaria, 2008, 91 minutes
Sat, Apr 25 / 11:00 / Kabuki / ZIFT25K
Mon, Apr 27 / 2:00 / Kabuki / ZIFT27K
Thu, Apr 30 / 3:30 / Kabuki / ZIFT30K
Communist slogans, valuable diamonds, rare poisons, glass eyes and scatological humor—these are just a few of the elements driving the plot of Javor Gardev’s immensely energetic debut feature. Using a film noir framework, exquisite black-and-white cinematography and rapid-fire dialogue, Zift depicts an ex-con named Moth (Zachari Baharov) on the night after his release from prison. Falsely incarcerated for murder in the 1940s, he proves himself a model Communist while inside and is released on good behavior two decades later into a drastically different Bulgaria. On the run from local officials who want to know the whereabouts of a diamond he is suspected of stealing, while searching for his ex-girlfriend and the son he’s never met, Moth is a hardboiled hero who nevertheless finds time for the poignant reminiscences of his one-eyed cellmate. With its breathless leaps among the multiple stories nestled in its overarching narrative, Zift recalls the masterpieces of American film noir, the cinema of the Coen brothers or the literature of Roberto Bolaño. Even with all of these referents, however, Gardev and screenwriter Vladislav Todorov—adapting his novel of the same name—have created something sui generis, a darkly comic riff on Bulgaria’s Communist past. Featuring a bathhouse scene that equals in visceral audacity the one in Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, and a revelation concerning a cache for jewels that tops The Maltese Falcon, Zift is an unforgettable story about fate, freedom and society’s various notions of justice.
West Coast Premiere.