A group of salsa loving teenagers embark on a journey of self discovery, motivated by passion and the desire to win a dance competition.
Interview with Director/Producer Taraq Qureshi, Writer/Producer Evgeniya Rakitina Qureshi and Producer/Cinematographer Ivo Rakitin
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
TARAQ: We got tired of playing the waiting game for our low-budget feature, so we decided to follow a more resourced-based solution. Working with what we had or access we wrote an entirely new script and embarked on the journey of making our debut feature film.
EVGENIYA: We live in a costal city where the summer is fantastic, full of sunshine, parties, dance and happy people. An idea to couple our passion in filmmaking with a movie about a group of young dancers in love with Salsa rhythms just somehow naturally captured us. Which came about as a result of us taking Salsa dance lessons at a local dance club and taking part in activities run by the salsa community..
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
TARAQ: It’s inspiring, funny, entertaining.
EVGENIYA: If you want to enjoy a beautiful summer scenery and have some laughter with the comic moments a group of happy friends goes through in chasing their dream to become local Salsa champions, you definitely should watch our movie. And we promise to you that you will be grabbed by the live hot beats of the Salsa songs and you will get relaxed and inspired.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
EVGENIYA: This is a story about love, passion to win and about the happiness we all deserve to achieve in our lives, no matter whether we are champions or not. We want to make people ask themselves the question of what really matters in life. It is great to be a champion in something, but not everyone could achieve this. On the other hand all of us deserve love and happiness even if they never become number one.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
TARAQ: The initial idea was to produce a low-budget feature, but that was not possible. So we concentrated on writing a new script adapted to the resources we had or had access to. Initially we envisioned a web-series but decided against that due to the time and resources need which could be better spent in making a feature and have a bigger impact and a wider reach.
IVO: During the very process of the filming the collaboration with the actors brought out comedic dialogue and also some comic scenes which gave a great conclusion of the theme and tune of the movie.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
TARAQ: The standing ovation by the audience at the end of the film completely surprised me.
EVGENIYA: After our premiere in our home city some members of the audience came to us and said that this was a very bright and funny movie which cheered them up, relaxed them and made them forget them for whatever problems they had. They said the experience watching our movie recharged them and they enjoyed the beats of the Salsa music.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
EVGENIYA: In a bit yes, because our audience underlined more on this that the movie made them feel relaxed, bright and happy, rather than to discuss the story line or the dancing.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
IVO: We would like to reach a bigger audience and present our work to them. We are happy to hear their feedback and their opinions on the slogan of our movie: “Winning is not everything, being happy in life is”.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
TARAQ: We would happy if we could screenings of the film outside of Bulgaria, whether it's by salsa fans or festivals. At the moment we are talking to a distributor who is interested in releasing the film online.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
TARAQ: We did not set out with any major aspirations for the film, just the fact that we were able to embark on such a journey to bring a heart warming story to the screen with the fantastic collaboration of the young cast and crew drove us to achieve what we did and we feel immensely proud of our achievement. I suppose what I am saying that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
EVGENIYA: “Do we always have the right priorities in our life or we miss to feel happy just because we are not the winners?” “Isn’t happiness and love the ultimate goals of our lives and do we forget this sometimes?”
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
TARAQ: We have three projects that we have been working on: one mid-budget feature where we have published a book adapted from the screenplay, available on Amazon called “Victoria Black”, and we are still looking for finance our low budget feature “Strictly Salsa”, again set in the world of Latin Salsa. We are running our actors through training schools.
Interview: January 2019
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Strictly Salsa: The Beginning
A group of salsa loving teenagers embark on a journey of self discovery, motivated by the passion and desire to win a dance competition.
Director: Taraq Qureshi
Producer: Taraq Qureshi, Evgeniya Rakitina Qureshi, Ivo Rakitin
Writer: Evgeniya Rakitina Qureshi
About the writer, director and producer:
TARAQ QURESHI (British producer, director and actor) gained his education in filmmaking in London with Raindance and other institutions. Produced four features/seven short films.
EVGENIYA RAKITINA QURESHI (Professor of Information Technology, novelist/screenwriter of three feature films - one produced/screened and two under development) - manages acting for the camera school.
IVO RAKITIN ( MSC in Engineering/Information Technology) has gained solid experience in cinematography and is engaged in two features and four short films, sketches, shows and documentaries.
Key cast: Petya Peeva, Peter Lindo, Vilislav Ivanov, Nikolay Nikolaev, Enita Hristova, Inna Petkova, Liliya Aleksandrova, Andrey Andrikov Arcane, RalistaDimitrova, Seo Fernandez (Guest appearance), Eneris Mulgado(Guest appearance)
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
Releasing worldwide online in middle of 2019