Exclusive SXSW Film Festival Interview: Maria Bakalova and Directors Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova on Misogyny and Eastern European Portrayal in ‘Women Do Cry’

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Actress Maria Bakalova received international acclaim and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tutar, the daughter of fake Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev, in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. The prominence of that part has led to upcoming roles in Judd Apatow’s The Bubble and A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies. But first, Bakalova stars in a film made in her native Bulgaria, Women Do Cry, which made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and now comes to Texas to screen during SXSW.

Bakalova stars as Sonja, a young woman who contracts HIV and struggles to receive care in a society ruled by prejudice and vicious chauvinism.

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Filmmakers Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova tell a story that looks at the way women are forced to fend for themselves in a repressive world that treats them as something less.

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I had the chance to speak to Bakalova, Mileva, and Kazakova about representing Bulgarians, and Eastern Europeans in general, when they are not usually portrayed in a favorable way in Western Cinema, and at a time of enormous conflict in the region.

Women Do Cry
Sonja (Maria Bakalova) and Lora (Ralitsa Stoyanova) in “Women Do Cry” | Credit: © Dimitar KOSTOV / ACTIVIST38 – ICI ET LÀ PRODUCTIONS – ARTE FRANCE CINÉMA – 2021

You can watch the video above, and read below for an official summary and where to watch.

Film summary:

Academy Award® nominee Maria Bakalova (BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM) stars as a young woman with HIV in this feminist critique of modern Bulgarian society. With her life turned upside down, Sonja (Bakalova) turns to her sister Lora (Ralitsa Stoyanova) and the women in her family for support. Each faces her own struggle against the inherent misogyny and homophobia present in all their lives. A rallying cry from acclaimed directing duo Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova (CAT IN THE WALL; UNCLE TONY, THREE FOOLS AND THE SECRET SERVICE), this explosive drama took its inspiration from Kazakova’s own family of strong women.

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Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Women Do Cry makes its Texas premiere in the Global presented by MUBI section at the SXSW Film Festival.

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