It’s safe to say that after her miseducation in a barn, Borat’s most beautiful daughter Tutar Sagdiyev may have had no interest in returning to her Kazakh hometown, but Maria Bakalova, the Bulgarian actor whose portrayal of Tutar made her a breakout star, is a different story. To follow up the one-two punch of her Oscar-nominated Borat 2 role and A24's scream-queen favorite Bodies Bodies Bodies, Bakalova will star and produce in the dark satire Triumph, Deadline reports. The film marks her first hometown project in Bulgaria since finding stateside success.
Triumph, or Триумф, is a “darkly comedic” film directed by award-winning Bulgarian filmmakers Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, the latest chapter in a trilogy that includes 2014's The Lesson and 2016's Glory. Based on real-life events, the film is a military satire set in the 1990s amidst the fallout of post-communist Eastern Europe. With the mission in mind of returning Bulgaria to its greatness of yesteryear, an elite, top-secret task force of high-ranking Bulgarian army officers and psychics travel to the village of Tsarichina to uncover an ancient alien artifact that seems to be the answer to their quest.
The new project marks a reunion for the behind-the-camera duo and Bakalova, who previously performed in Grozeva and Valchanov’s acclaimed 2019 film The Father. Bakalova was offered that role in just her third year at the Bulgarian National Academy for Theater and Film Arts, where Grozeva and Valchanov taught her in a class before inviting her to audition.
Also joining Bakalova in the principal cast are fellow Bulgarian actors Julian Vergov and The Father star Margita Gosheva. Vergov, known stateside for his work on Netflix’s Shadow & Bone, also worked with Bakalova in her early career—after becoming friends during the Borat 2 audition process, Bakalova and Vergov are now producing partners. They’ll produce Triumph together under their Five Oceans banner.
Filming on Triumph is currently underway in Bulgaria, although a release date has yet to be specified.