2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE MAGIC LIFE OF V

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Aleksandar Valeriev Stanishev

THE MAGIC LIFE OF V
Tonislav Hristov reveals the transformative healing of a young woman through fantasy role-play.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Country:
Finland/Denmark/Bulgaria

Sundance Program Description:

Wizards, magic spells, and heroic sword battles are just fantasy for some, but for Veera they’re a meaningful part of conquering her inner trauma. When Veera transforms into her LARP (live-action role-play) persona V, the game’s fantasy battlefields give her a space to combat her psychological turmoil. Tormented by her past, Veera finds in LARP the support and solace she needs to become the hero of her own story.

Tonislav Hristov’s elegant film is an intimate representation of an epic emotional journey. Wielding a tight camera, Hristov deftly translates Veera’s internal struggle into nuanced cinematic moments. Images of Veera traversing snowy landscapes offer transitional reprieve between her battlegrounds. Flashes from home videos offer impressionistic glimpses into her childhood. Discussions about her father are a source of tension between Veera and her disabled brother, whom she cares for. Therapy sessions slowly reveal the complexities of Veera’s struggle. Yet remembering and speaking about these memories goes only so far – Veera will need V’s courage if she’s going to confront her most intimidating challenge of all.

Some Background:
Director/Screenwriter/Editor:

  • Tonislav Hristov
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GOOD POSTMAN (2017)

    This is the seventh doc feature for the Finland-based, Bulgarian-born Hristov, whose previous work has screened at IDFA, Hot Docs, Karlovy Vary, and Tribeca, among other events.

Producer/Screenwriter:

  • Kaarle Aho
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GOOD POSTMAN
    HAPPINESS (2014)

    Making Movies’ Aho is an Emmy-nominated co-producer of THE LOOK OF SILENCE and also produced Hristov’s previous films.

Producer:

  • Kai Nordberg
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GOOD POSTMAN

    Making Movies CEO/co-founder Nordberg also produced Hristov’s earlier work.

Co-Producers:

  • Kirstine Barfod

    This marks the first Sundance credit for Barford, who has previously produced docs that have debuted at IDFA and CPH:DOX, and is producing a new film by the Oscar-nominated Feras Fayyad.

  • Andrea Stanoeva
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GOOD POSTMAN

    This is the fourth doc feature by Hristov on which Stanoeva has worked.

Editor:

Story Editor:

  • Anne Fabini
    Past Sundance docs:

    OF FATHERS AND SONS (2018)
    THE WORKERS CUP
    RETURN TO HOMS (2014)

    Fabini also cut Sundance fiction alums THE TALE, MORRIS FROM AMERICA, HOUSTON, and RUN LOLA RUN.

Co-Writer:

  • Lubomir Tsvetkov
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE GOOD POSTMAN

Why You Should Watch:
Hristov sensitively and expertly balances Veera’s search for catharsis and help for her brother, Ville, both within LARP and in the real world. What in other hands could have become staid filmmaking-as-therapy instead takes on a fresh, transcendent path.

More Info:
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For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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