#SHORTVIEW: “Eat Me” by Ilina Perianova


Laura starts slipping from the daily reality of a weight-obsessed rich man’s mistress. While on a fancy dinner with her gluttonous lover, she enters a strange world where food dances and sings.


> Food is the central point of your film – why were you interested in food, specifically?

Food is kind of a family obsession – my mum is an excellent cook, and she has even published a book on how people eat, what they eat, our relationships with food, and the attitude towards food in different cultures, etc. My first theatre piece as a director was called “I’m Hungry”, my sister’s animation short, in which I’m now collaborating, is called “Appetite”, etc.

I have to say that food is very important to me. I strongly believe in the saying that “you are what you eat”, and I think that people usually underestimate the power that food can hold over our bodies and minds. And not only that – I also think that our eating habits are getting hold of our personal lives and relationships. We have all these dating apps now, where we can like people or throw them away like nothing. Fast food and fast love. It’s our way of life now.

> Your short film portrays some interesting relationships between man, woman, and food. Could you give us your personal perspective on this dynamic?

I believe that, especially as a woman, it’s very important to talk about the social pressure we face. I made this short film in part as a critique to a society where, for women, in order to be successful, we have to be slim, and look forever young, etc. For me, the character of the girl in this movie represents, in a way, a big part of a female society that is always forced to face the power that men hold, while a man can be old or whatever he wants without any worries whatsoever.

Fortunately, nowadays there is a kind of “wind of change”, but I can still see the influence of advertisements on little girls, who force themselves to stop eating, so that they’ll be more popular and liked by everyone – or so they think. To be a woman means much more than to be a “beautiful doll”, but I think it’s still something that is not realized by many people.

I think that society forces us all in a myriad of ways to act as it’s expected of us, and this pressure can come from anywhere. I also think that all things are very interconnected, and the rise of right-wing politics and nationalism can be another factor, but we also have to account for social expectations, the powers of the media, etc.

> Do you think short films could have a role to play in the fight against these topics?

I think there is definitely a need for a social cinema, a cinema that discusses the problems of today, as it has always been – but there’s, of course, this big debate of whether the purpose of art is to expose or to entertain, which has been going for a long time.

I think art has many uses: as an expression, as a point of view, as a discussion, as a reflection, etc; entertainment can also be one of these uses, without necessarily downplaying the others. But I feel that people in the art world nowadays are scared. They often choose the conventional or trendy way of doing things instead of trying something new, and people like me who try to be really different, very often, are not understood at all.

> Hasn’t that always been a problem in art?

In a way, yes. But nowadays I see that trends get much more traction: for example, social dramas are right now very trendy, so they get chosen for all the big festivals, and from there, they gain recognition, and continue to be screened and awarded in other festivals. Some years ago it was gay couples, then refugees, and now I am expecting a huge wave of films about sexually oppressed women.

I am not saying that all these films are not good, but there are many other great films that are less trendy and receive no attention at all for being so. Another thing that really bothers me is that directors who come from a specific country are usually expected to work in a specific genre. In Bulgaria, I am expected to do films about the difficult situation in our country, about how hard it is to live here, etc. That’s what the big festivals usually choose, and if you don’t play by these rules, you’re out of the game.

Ilina has expressed her will of turning “Eat me!” into a feature musical film, exploring the relationships between “radical vegans” and “meat-eaters”.