Name: Maria Bakalova
SXSW projects: “Women Do Cry,” which premiered in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes last year, and “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” A24’s much-anticipated horror film directed by Halina Reijn, from a script penned by “Cat Person” author Kristen Roupenian.
Notable past credits: Bakalova received numerous best supporting actress award nominations for her portrayal of the daughter in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
Bakalova’s first impressions of Austin, Texas: “The energy of the city is very young, which is cool. The energy of youth and inspiration for life, the desire to live this life, you can feel it here,” she says. “Last year, there was a Danish movie called ‘Another Round,’ and for me, that movie completely captures the living of this life — and Austin feels this way, like a celebration of life.”
The 25-year-old Bulgarian actress stars in two female-forward films included in this year’s SXSW lineup. The festival brought her to Austin for the first time, and on Saturday afternoon, Bakalova was at the Violet Crown theater for the U.S. premiere of her film “Women Do Cry” along with Bulgarian codirectors Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova.
“The movie is about a family of women, and each of them is on the edge of a nervous breakdown,” she says. The actress adds that she’s especially excited that to share the film with Western audiences, which offers a nuanced perspective of life in Eastern Europe.
“We usually have been portrayed as the villains, dumb people or prostitutes. So it’s interesting to have the chance to be here at an American festival and show that we’re so much more, we’re multilayered characters and people,” she adds.
Bakalova’s second festival film, “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” debuts at the festival on Monday. The film stars a female-heavy cast, along with Pete Davidson and Lee Pace.
“It’s a very interesting, unique, fresh, exciting movie about a group of [young adults] that are all in a villa, when something goes wrong. It’s a very curious movie about friendship and trust, and the decade that we’re living in,” says Bakalova, adding that getting to work with A24 was a longtime dream.
After the festival, Bakalova will get back to work shooting two projects, one in Atlanta and the other in England. She also stars in Judd Apatow’s forthcoming comedy “The Bubble,” which filmed last year and comes out April 1. “It’s about a pandemic and a group of actors trying to finish a movie in these times, and what is it like behind the camera,” she says of the film. “It’s going to be interesting spring.”