Powerful films that have difficulty reaching an audience were presented, accompanied by the filmmakers who, regardless of this fact, continue drawing attention to political oppression and social inequality.

The recipe is highly recommended – sometimes the simplest ideas work best: Ask filmmakers from Western Europe and Eastern Europe to bring their films to a secluded location for screenings and discussions, on the only condition that the films are good and interesting and that they deal with ethnic and/or human rights issues.

This happened in October at the Bulgarian Filmmakers’ beautiful conference venue far away from the big cities and near the Balkan Mountains. For three days, the screening room was filled with pictures and words. As time progressed the discussions steered more and more away from content toward form and style. Why? One explanation could be that you can only stand talking about poverty and hopelessness for so long. Another that the group was becoming more and more open to each other and therefore dared to discuss ethical and moral questions.

From Opium to Chrysanthemum

Poverty and hopelessness, but also optimism and humour. From the shocking Bulgarian film on Roma, Life in the Ghetto by Eldora Traykova to the cinematically powerful Amerasians by Sweden’s Erik Gandini, and From Opium to Chrysanthemum on the Hmong people by PeÅ Holmquist. From the poetic Estonian film on the Khanty people in Siberia, Flight, by Valentin Kuik to the retrospective portrait of the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra’s survival of the war, Light in Darkness by Denmark’s Torben Glarbo and further on to the mild and positive Act of Faith by Britain’s Toni Strasburg about a health train in South Africa.

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