Bulgaria has re-entered the International Film race for the 2023 Academy Awards with In the Heart of the Machine, directed by Martin Makariev.
The Bulgarian selection committee, chaired by Oscar-nominated Borat star Maria Bakalova, named In the Heart of the Machine (В Сърцето На Машината) as the country’s new entry after their original pick, Mother, was deemed ineligible by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier this week due to more than 50% of the spoken dialogue track being in the English language. The country had until Oct. 3 to submit a new film.
The Academy’s decision created confusion among the producers of Mother who believed their film was compliant with the rule amid calls for more transparency over how exactly the determination is made.
Based on a true story, In the Heart of the Machine is set in 1978, at the height of the communist rule in Bulgaria, and revolves around a group of prisoners recruited to work at a factory. A convicted murderer’s refusal to start his machine until a pigeon trapped in it has been freed triggers a series of events, including a hostage situation, as humanity prevails over self-preservation.
The cast of the film includes a number of top Bulgarian actors, including Hristo Shopov, who played Pontius Pilate in Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of the Christ, Ivaylo Hristov whose film as a director, Fear, was Bulgaria’s International Oscar submission last year, Julian Vergov and Bashar Rahal.
In the Heart of the Machine won Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the 2021 Bulgarian National Film Awards. Watch a teaser below. (Clicking the CC sign activates English subtitles.)