Mayor, Shepherd, Widow, Dragon

Constanze Schmitt (DoP)

Statement of the Jury (Isabelle Casez, Birgit Guðjonsdottir, Sabine Panossian)

»We were impressed with the successful collaboration between director and cinematographer. This is clearly a team effort; they trust each other implicitly and have developed a common artistic vocabulary. It is already the fifth film Constanze Schmitt has made with Eliza Petkova. Their work is always respectful, observant, unobtrusive and calm. It is driven by a strong feeling of closeness, warmth and empathy towards the protagonists. The title Mayor, Shepherd, Widow, Dragon lists the most important players in a dwindling community in the Bulgarian mountain village of Pirin. Centuries-old traditions have fallen silent, and abandoned houses are being reclaimed by nature.

Most villagers have left, but this film is interested in the people who have remained. The camerawork is grounded, in sync with the peacefulness and slowness of the surroundings. The few sequences shot with a handheld camera are so steady it almost goes unnoticed. Precise framing and carefully selected image compositions play a key role in the successful portrayal of the protagonists, whose fates are poignant. Their longings and fears still define their inherently structured, simple life.

The film is a humorous documentation of a unique place in Europe that will soon disappear altogether. It is a portrait of Pirin and its fascinating inhabitants. The images never force themselves to the fore to achieve a certain effect but are always used in a meaningful way. Their poetic quality allows us to immerse ourselves in this lost, magical world.«

Guest: Constanze Schmitt 

This film has been nominated for the Audience Award endowed with 1,000 euro. Please vote after watching the movie.
You can find an overview of all nominated films here.


Eliza Petkova


Constanze Schmitt


Eliza Petkova, Hannes Marget


Hannes Marget


Iliya Lazarov, Georgi Vlahov, Maria Klecheva, Rossen Klechev


Wood Water Films – Jasper Mielke, Karoline Henkel, Arto Sebastian


DFFB – Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin, Reka Pictures, rbb – Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Eliza Petkova, Constanze Schmitt


Wood Water Films

Porträt der Bildgestalterin Constanze Schmitt

Constanze Schmitt (DoP)

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in audiovisual media at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Constanze Schmitt (born 1985) studied cinematography at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin. She has developed an intensive and long-standing working relationship with director Eliza Petkova. Her short film Absent premiered in Cannes in 2015. Her first feature film Zhaleika received an Honourable Mention at the 2016 Berlinale. Her graduation film A Fish Swimming Upside Down premiered at the 70th Berlinale in 2020. Together with the director Qiu Yang, Schmitt won the Palme d’Or in Cannes 2017 for the short film A Gentle Night and the Leitz Cine Discovery Prize for their short film She Runs two years later.

Films by Constanze Schmitt (Cinematography, Selection)
Matecznik 2021, Ivie wie Ivie 2021, Ein Fisch, der auf dem Rücken schwimmt 2020, She Runs 2019, As Scent Passes 2018, A Gentle Night 2017, Zhaleika 2016, Eliza 2015, Umbilical Chord 2014, Abwesend 2014