Battles of Troy

  • 2005
  • experimental documentary
  • 52 min, DV, PAL, color, sound
  • distribution: Argos Centre for Art & Media, Brussels
  • EA 5 + 2 AP + 1H/C
  • Collections: Centre Pompidou/MNAM, Paris; ARTEAST +2000, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; Sofia Art Gallery, Sofia; private collection, Sofia

“Battles of Troy” is a study on the internal economy of contemporary globalized cinema production, see through the eyes of the lowest unit in the production hierarchy - the extras. The focus of the study is the making of the Warner Bross Motion Picture “Troy” (2004). Starting in 2003 with a budget of 185 000 000 USD, Troy is one of the most expensive productions ever made. It interprets on screen the Homer's Illiade.

The project is based on the fact that 300 people from the core “specialised” group of stunds in “Troy” are Bulgarians.The warner Bross project, executed by the British branch of the company, shot in UK, Malta and Mexico suddenly appeared to be in need of an elite group of extras that not only possessed the physical prowess necessary to convincingly stage the battle scenes, but also had a believably Mediterranean look. The perfect soldiers were recruited from the Sports Academy in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. On a first sight this a producer’s decision, following pragmatic and logistic reasons. A more careful study on the other hand discovers a sophisticated grid of geographic/political/cultural connotations shaping a rich field for a serious study of the word of the globalised film industry.
At first place, it is interesting to map the trajectory, drawn by the production.
Imagine the route: USA (producer), UK (staff), Malta (film shooting location), Turkey (the site of ancient city of Troy), Greece (Illiade as part of the Ancient Greece History), Bulgaria (source for the extras), Mexico (film shooting location).

Imagine a group of ~300 athletes of Bulgarian origin, collected from all-over the country to be a core of the armies in the movie Troy. For most of them this is a first close contact with the cinema world. They are coming from the Fitness Halls and the National Sports Academy – large, strong, muscled, “Meidteranean-looking” guys, close to the classical parameters for a male body (assuming that were the major criteria, the Bulgarians were chosen for this task),

And now imagine all these men, flown to the Mexican coast, where they spent 3 months in training and shooting the mass battle scenes of “Troy” as background of the feats of arms of Eric Bana and Brad Pitt.

This background behind the main characters is the subject of “Battles of Troy”.

These are people with professional backgrounds, quit remote from cinema.
It is interesting what is the motivation, that can make these “serious” men, on a serious rhitm of dayli life and training to leave the comfort of their personal lives and accept the risky 3-months trip to Mexico as a low-payed labor force in a film, in which they wont recognise even their silhouettes on the screen.

It is interesting what were the expectations, experiences and impressions of these people before and after the trip to the film-world.
What are their desires and dreams before, their frustrations and adventures during, and disappointments after the trip?
What type of transformations happened to each of the extras, leading may be to a point of no return.
What kind of movie they saw on the set during the battles shooting, and how much it matches the movie they saw in the film theater after the premiere?

These are some of the questions we try to investigate in our study.

Original title: BATTLES OF TROY
Bulgarian title: БИТКИТЕ НА ТРОЯ

Year of production: 2005


Project by: 
Director of Photography:
Second Cameraman:
Music Composition:
Video Editing:
Asistent Director:
Sound recording and Editing:

Krassimir Terziev
Svetla Neykova
Miroslav Evdosiev
Alexander Yanev
Krassimir Terziev
Alexander Iordanov
Ivaylo Stefanov / Petar Yosifov
Vassil Stefanov


Alexander Dafinov
Alexander Peltekov
Alexander Yordanov
Alexey Cvetanov
Alexi Yovchev
Borislav Limonov
Danail Toshev
Emil Penkov
Galin Petrov
Georgi Telalov
Hristo Vichev

Ivan Vassilev
Ilyan Zarev
Krassimir Mateev
Lyubomir Naidenov
Marin Georgiev
Nikolay Zlatanov
Rosen Ivanov
Rosen Stanimirov
Sashko Kirilov
Svetlin Ivanov
Svetoslav Slavchev

Slavomir Simeonov
Stoilko Popovski
Valentin Paskalev
Valeri Dimentiev
Valeri Milanov
Vassil Rangelov
Vesselin Takev
Vesselin Todorov
Yavor Michailov

Battles of Troy is a production of The Belluard Bollwerk International

carried out thanks to a contribution of the Canton Fribourg to the culture, with the support of Fondation Nestle pour l'Art

and in coproduction with Plateaux - New Positions in International Performing Arts, Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt/Main.

with the kind support of interSpace Media Art Centre, Sofia.

Special thanks to Stefan Kaegi



Screenings and Exhibitions

Pre-Premiere: BBI Festival, 1-9 July, 2005, Fribourg, CH

Pre-Premiere: Plateaux Festival, 1-10 November, 2005, Frankfurt/Main

Pre-Premiere: Goethe-Institut Sofia, 22 November, 2005,

International Premiere - Visions du Reel. Nyon Documentary Film Festival, Nyon, 24-30 April, 2006

Bulgarian Premiere - Sofia International Film Festival, 9-19 March 2006

Play Sofia, exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien-Project Space, 8 December 2005/8 January, 2006

Telling Time series, sophiensaelle theater, Berlin, 29 March - 02 April, 2006

100 Dessus Dessous Festival, Parc Lavillette , Paris, 7-9 April 2006

Transat Festival, Caen, France, 2006

Politics of Space, Conference in the frameworks of On Difference Project, BW Kunstverein, Stuttgart, 5 - 9 Aprill 2006

Festival International du Film de La Rochelle, La Rochelle, 30 June - 10 July 2006

Scanners: The 2006 New York Video Festival, July 26 – 30, 2006

28e Festival Cinéma Méditerranéen Montpellier, 27 Octobre -5 Novembre 2006

2nd International Filmfestival Frankfurt, 2 November - 12 November, 2006

Cine y Casi Cine, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2007

14th. New York Underground Film Festival, NYC, 2007

Liquid Frontiers, Lille 3000, Lille; curated by Iara Boubnova, 2009

Conversation Pieces. CEPA Gallery, Buffallo, curators: Mariam Ghani, Sean Donaher, 2009

From Ideology to Economy. Contemporary Bulgarian Art 20 Yers later, State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia, Moscow, 2010

Floating Spaces | Art Films Screenings Program, Teatro Paravento, Locarno; curated by la rada (Locarno), Andrea Cinel (Argos, Brussels), Mike Sperlinger (LUX , London), 2011

Scramble for the Past. Video Program, Walk-in Cinema, SALT Beyoğlu, 2012

Grammar of Freedom / Five Lessons: Works from ARTEAST 2000+ Collection, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; curated by Zdenka Badovinac, Snejana Krasteva, and Bojana Piškur, 2015

Low-Budget Utopias, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM, Ljubljana; curated by Zdenka Badovinac and Bojana Piškur, 2016

Extras, Bitplayers and Historical consultants, Film Museum Potsdam, 2017

Before the Past – After the Future, 6th Canakkale Biennial, Korfmann Library – Troia Foundation; curated by CABININ / Videoist, 2018

#comment #fiction #document. Video art works from the Sofia City Art Gallery collection, Sofia City Art Gallery; curated by Daniela Radeva, 2019

Open Art Files: Notes and footnotes, Aug 16 — Sep 30, 2019, Kapana Gallery, Plovdiv; project by Open Arts Foundation, part of Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019; curated by Vera Mlechevska