Bulgaria does not have a long lasting tradition in documentary film making, but there certainly are a lot of productions that deserve attention. Here are 10 documentaries we picked for you:
“My Darling Son” (2018), directed by Pavlina Ivanova, had its world premiere within the last year Sofia Film Fest. It is a story about an emigrant in London who dedicated his life to music. After years of wandering and going to extremes, 43-year-old Miroslav Atanassov – Morski gets a new chance for a family and a long-awaited breakthrough as a musician. The multinational group he plays is about to record a debut album and come out on the big music scene.
The film is a production of Front Film. Producer is Svetla Tsotsorkova, operator – Alex Samundzhi. The original music in “My Darling Son” is by the “The Turbans” – an international music formation combining exciting traditional Middle Eastern and Eastern European styles and original compositions in its modern and energetic performances.
“New Life” is the second documentary of one of the most successful Bulgarian cinema operators, Stefan Ivanov. For 25 years, the author has lived and worked in Canada, and his film dedicated to emigration is a sort of experience for Stefan Ivanov’s return to his life and professional past in Bulgaria. The film is a virtuoso visual narrative for people who emigrated in the first years after the change of the political system in Bulgaria, real characters whose travels are extremely risky, vague and hopeful.
The main character in the movie “The Dream of Nikolay” by Maria Karagiozova is the captain of a tourist boat. He remembers his dream, what he managed to make in 1985 – tour the world alone. Passing through the Iron Curtain, Nikolay Djambazov points to the way to the freedom of a whole generation of young Bulgarians. The film is a co-production of Belgium and Bulgaria.
The French-Bulgarian co-production “Je vois rouge / I See Red People” was produced by director Bozhina Panaytova. She was born in Bulgaria but graduated from the “La Femis” at the Philosophy school and created her original film projects, traveling between Bulgaria and France. Her previous film “Cosmonauts” (2014) was shown at the 18th Sofia Film Festival in 2014. “I see Red People” is a story about how Bozhina herself confronts her parents with provocative questions about their past and possible links with Bulgarian state security. In the original tragicomic odyssey that mixes spy and family film, the story begins with the return of Bozhina from France after a 25-year absence from Bulgaria. With a camera in hand, Bozhina decides to know what would happen if her family co-operated with the political police and the communist regime. She is doing her documentary investigation and filming everything on the subject. Producer of the film is Roy Arida, co-produced by Arno Domerque in co-production with “Andolfi”, Paris. “I see Red People” was featured in the SFF 2018 program just after its premiere at the 68th Berlin Film Festival, taking part in the international documentary competition in Sofia.
Edited by Eldora Traykova “Miniature for Piano” (2017) is a story about the everyday life of four elderly rural doctors in Bulgaria. The script is written by Assen Vladimirov. The film is a production of Profilm with the support of EA “National Film Center” and Emil Hristov.
Kostadin Bonev’s latest film, “Uprooting”, takes a documentary look at the end of the Ottoman Empire and its agony lasting 25 years. The specific focus is on the genocide against the Armenians, according to statistical data, the victims only in 1915 (killed and deported) are one million and four hundred thousand.
“Simon vs. Fear (The Varsano Case)” is a documentary narrative of writer, screenwriter, playwright and director Georgi Tenev about the most silent Bulgarian dissident, Simon Varsano. He is a medical photographer, a water polo competitor, a romantic, a favorite of women. Overnight he becomes a prisoner with his legs shot and an enemy of the totalitarian regime. The Berlin Wall falls, but Simon Varsano refuses to become a hero. It is only three decades later that the story returns with a secret film of Communist State Security. There is a meeting with youth, a meeting with hopes and illusions. And again meets: Simon against fear.
“K 22” by directors Alexander Krumov and Anton Bogorisov present the atmosphere in a company of students in acting, painting and symphonic music. Under the circumstances, they all escaped their military service together in 1957, and today they are among the most prominent Bulgarian artists, actors, musicians, sculptors and directors in the last half-century. What brings them together is the opening of the unusual photographic exhibition by Alexander Sertev “Welcome to the National Barracks”. It is also an occasion for many of them to tell funny, curious and tragicomic stories of that time. Director Lyudmil Staykov tells with a laugh how he locked the division in Michurin and went to the beach – he stayed alone as “guard” while the others were in the study for the whole day. However, investigators passed by and story developed grotesque dimensions …
The Cold War (2017) by directors Radoslav Iliev and Ivaylo Penchev is based on the script of Ivan Georgiev – Gets. Through the means of film archive, interviews with professionals and on the basis of numerous documents and photos, the documentary explores the over 40 years of struggle for supremacy between the “Western” world and the socialist camp. Cold War is a time of cruel dramas and broken human destinies for millions of ordinary people on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Cold War operator is Ivan Mihov.
The name of Martichka Bozhilova and AGITPROP as a producer is behind another interesting documentary project – “Occupation 1968″ (Bulgaria-Germany-Hungary-Poland-Russia), which closed the official program of the 22nd Sofia Film Festival. The film is a story about soldiers from the “fraternal” armies of the Warsaw Pact member states, as well as the Czechoslovak Occupation and their functions in it in August 1968. Bulgaria participates in this ambitious co-production with Stefan Komandarev’s film “Unnecessary Hero”.