Films & Schedules

  • Zift

  • Javor Gardev

92 minutes
Black and White/35mm

Production Company:
Miramar Film/National Film Centre/Bulgarian National Television/Multfilm/Bg Art Studio
Ilian Djevelekov, Matey Konstantinov, Georgi Dimitrov
Vladislav Todorov
Production Designer:
Nikola Toromanov
Emil Christov
Kevork Aslanyan
Petko Manchev
Kalin Nikolov
Principal Cast: Zachary Baharov, Tanya Ilieva, Vladimir Penev, Mihail Mutafov, Djoko Rossich

Thursday September 0406:00PM AMC 4 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 0406:00PM AMC 5 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 0609:15AM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 3 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Tuesday September 0906:30PM AMC 3 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Shortly before the Bulgarian Communist coup of 1944, the Moth was thrown into jail under a false conviction for murder. Finally freed from the confines of his unjust prison sentence, he finds himself in a strange and intimidating new place: totalitarian Sofia of the sixties. Released on parole after serving some hard time in prison, the Moth's one-night neo-noir odyssey quickly gets underway, as he runs into trouble and falls afoul of the Communist state. Starting with a qualified measure of optimism, his first night of freedom is swiftly plagued by looming threats and impending doom.

The Moth's frantically wild night sketches the geography of a fiendish autocratic city, its imposing communist architecture centred around the mausoleum, decaying neighbourhoods, gloomy streets, bathhouses, the city canal, the hospital, the cathedral, smoky bars and the graveyard. He stumbles into a series of bizarre encounters with a parade of eccentric characters, as the marginalized – agents, medics, barflies, outcasts and gravediggers – all lure him to the flame of disaster. Catastrophic twists and unpredictable revelations unfold in a carefully structured mosaic of flashbacks, lies and hallucinations, as well as in a sensual experience with a former flame. The narrative eventually culminates in a profoundly revealing climax in the gravediggers' trailer.

Zift boasts stunningly disorienting cinematography by Emil Christov, who teams up with director Javor Gardev to forge an atmospheric parable about freedom, justice and social change. The film is a genre hybrid unlike any other, drawing in equal measure upon city films, the neo-noir and Soviet pseudo-socialist art. The latter infuses a relentless, irreverent energy to Zift, while the asphalt jungle lends a sense of desperation and a pervasive social malaise to the Moth's peripatetic plight. This is a truly striking feature debut and a razor-sharp depiction of the forces that catch on to someone's fate and hold on tight.

Dimitri Eipides

Javor Gardev was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. He received an M.A. in philosophy at Sofia University and an M.A. in stage directing at the Krastyo Sarafov Academy for Theatre and Film Arts. In addition to directing numerous theatre productions, he has also directed the short films Der Solitudebolero oder Raskolnikowbesessenheit (98) and Bedspotting (02). Zift (08) is his feature directing debut.

Cadillac People's Choice Award