Her Story Her Future: How did your love story with movies start? What did little Teodora want to become when growing up? 

Teodora Kosara Popova: My childhood dream was to become a dentist. I still often wonder how my life would turn out if I chose to follow that path. Then I fell in love with literature and theatre and decided to study script writing just to find out it is in the film faculty at the university I chose. To be honest, I never really cared about movies before the moment I got accepted. Then it was love at first sight. During my first year of studying, I learned a lot about cinema and the process of filmmaking and quickly understood that is what I wanted to do. It was a combination of my love for writing, acting and the interest in photography I recently discovered. It came as a surprise, but it quickly changed the whole way I see the world. I see it as destiny because it was never a career I dreamed of, but life brought me there, and suddenly all of the missing pieces fit in the right places.

HSHF: What are the personal skills a professional need in this industry? Do you think that a woman brings something different to the table; not better, not worse, just different?

TKP: I think all you need is sensitivity. You need to be able to notice why people hurt, what they are missing, what brings them joy, what brings them tears, what they are looking for to feel complete, and how life treats every human soul. You need that to make films about what is important and to tell stories that excite the audience. But you need the exact same sensitivity to work with people, to inspire your crew, and to lead them in the right direction in order to create something together.  I don‘t like separating women from men; I think every talented artist who has the sensitivity I‘m speaking of brings something different to the table, as we all see and feel the world differently.

HSHF: Did you have unrealistic expectations about your profession? If so, when did you realize that was the case, and what did you do about it?

TKP: Filmmaking is a tough, exhausting, and, in many cases, not perfectly paid profession (at least in the beginning). You need to make a huge sacrifice if that is what you want to do. I quickly realized that, but I can‘t imagine myself doing anything else. I‘m trying to stay true to myself and to be surrounded by people who show me it‘s worth every effort. I‘m still young and full of idealistic ideas that bring me forward. I hope I‘ll manage to preserve that.

HSHF: What helps you get up and show up every day? 

TKP: Curiosity.

HSHF: It is generally a safe assumption that people make mistakes. Can you name the ones you’ve made along the way and that you have learned from? How about the ones that you feel you keep making even now?

TKP: I expect too much from people. I’ve always had and I still do. That’s exhausting for both sides and I still try to fight it.

HSHF: Can you name three women that have inspired you professionally?

TKP: Binka Zhelyazkova – the first woman director in Bulgaria, Alice Rohrwacher, Nadine Labaki.

HSHF: How about three women who have supported you?

TKP: Above all – my mother, Pavla Kotova – my screenwriter, my aunt, whom I’ve lost at a very young age but I’ve always felt a deep connection with her.

HSHF: What advice would you give to a young professional that you have received or would have wished to receive yourself?

TKP: Always trust your guts.