For the Balkan & the People

Documentary film – dir. Simeon Tsonchev

By looking after nature we actually look after our own selves

Synopsis

Since ancient times the aroma of oil-bearing roses attracts travellers from near and far to the foot of the Balkan Mountain. But rose oil is just a hint at the true treasures that the Balkan hold; the mountain is a bountiful source of stories of inspiration. These are the stories of people who value their connection with nature. Nikola the shepherd, dedicated to the preservation of an endangered breed of livestock. His life philosophy is as simple as it is effective: he raises his sheep and buffaloes traditionally, and offers real dairy products that are highly praised among those who value quality food. Maya’s sweet secret for a sustainable enterprise; she produces jams, conserves and syrup from wild berries.

Dimitar the farmer, who finds inspiration in one of Bulgaria’s poorest but most beautiful regions. The harsh mountain weather, the pristine nature and the knowledge of the local people all lead him in his venture to bring an old breed of sheep back to life. His lambs feed on wild herbs, and their wool is used for the world-recognised Chiprovtsi carpets. Ivan the Wolfman; a man that knows intimately the wildlife in his beloved mountain. The look in the eyes of a dying wolf shot by him changed his life forever. Today he earns his living honourably, revealing the magic of wild wolves and golden eagles to nature lovers visiting the area. Rayna and her old craft; she makes traditional folklore costumes and her motto is that by looking after nature we actually look after our own selves. Man and Nature are one.

But how many of us are ready to follow in the steps of these people of the Balkan Mountain?

Director’s notes

My work on the film project gave me an exciting opportunity to hear the stories of a handful of enterprising Bulgarians who run sustainable businesses at the foot of the Balkan Mountain. The idea that one can earn their living honourably, in harmony with nature, is not new. Alas, modern-day man seems to accept all that Planet Earth has to offer as a free gift; we have grown careless in our attitude to nature, our home. Some people might say extinction of species, natural river bed destruction, agricultural pesticides are not a problem as they do not affect them directly. I, on the other hand, prefer to live by an old saying that my Grandfather loved: ‘You reap what you sow!’

I think the heroes of this story are on the front line – they live closest to the pristine forests and the clean rivers of the Balkan Mountain, and their income depends directly on its treasures. They are the most passionate about the well-being of our nature, and they depend on it highly. And they are the first witnesses to the problems in the forests, resulting in landslides and deteriorating water supply. Perhaps exactly for this reason they are well aware that our connection with nature is crucial, and that the key to good health and longevity is hidden in the real food nature provides for us.

I decided to take up the challenge of filming For the Balkan & the People driven by my wish to tell the inspiring stories of these Balkan people. I wish to be an optimist and hope that their enthusiasm may infect others too. And I believe that any movie that has that spirit and says things can be changed is worth making.

Technical specs

  • original title: За Балкана и хората Za Balkana i horata
  • alternate titles: For the Balkan & the People
  • country: Bulgaria
  • release date: December 2016
  • filming format: HD
  • screening format: HD, BD, DVD
  • picture: colour, 1.78:1
  • sound: stereo 2.0
  • runtime: 34 min
  • rating category: B (Bulgaria – All ages admitted)
  • original language: Bulgarian
  • subtitles: English, Bulgarian
  • IMDb: imdb.com/title/tt6876306
  • сайт: monoco.eu/balkanpeople

Cast

  • narrated by – Maya Popova
  • shepherd – Nikola Kulov
  • farmer – Dimitar Ivanov
  • beekeeper – Tsvyatko Nachev
  • farmer – Stoyan Danailov
  • amateur photographer – Ivan Georgiev
  • forest jams producer – Maya Angelova
  • traditional costume designer – Rayna Gancheva
  • volunteers – Alexander ‘Sancho’ Marinov, Diana Pavlova, Peter Todorov
  • conservationist – Alexander Dunchev
  • rose picker – Simeon Moev
  • shepherd from Mrachenik – Denko from Vidrare
  • shepherd from Replyana – Vasil Efremov
  • shearer of a ram – Zhelyazko from Chiprovtsi
  • carpet weavers – Maria Stefanova, Maria Yotsina, Kate Yoinska, Dafina Bumbareva, Pepa Kudinska
  • shepherd from Zimevitsa – Anton Panotkov
  • dairywoman – Tanya Kulova
  • seller at Zeleni dni – Teodor Vulchev
  • birdwatchers – Emilia Zafiraki, Yana Alexieva, Bistra Tankova
  • children entertainer – Margarita Petrova
  • volunteers – Elitsa Ivanova, Vladimir Milushev, Spas Uzunov, Desislava Zhivkova, Rosen Vasilev, Katya Milusheva, Petya Sheremetova, Svetoslav Todorov, Diyana Kostovska
  • children entertainers – Radostina Pruvcheva, Nadya Pavlova, Kristiyan Alexandrov
  • and
  • visitors of Festival na chiprovskia kilim and Festival na mestnite porodi in Chiprovtsi
  • visitors of Green Days market in София
  • passersby in Tryavna
  • visitors of Green Days market in Sofia and Summer Academy Uzana

Crew

  • producer – Simeon Tsonchev,
  • co-producer – Radostina Tsenova
  • production – Mono Collective and BBF
  • funding – Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme
  • production coordinators:
  • APB – Zornitsa Stratieva, Toma Belev
  • BSPB – Miroslava Dikova, Teodora Petrova
  • Bioselena – Dr. Stoilko Apostolov, Iva Toncheva, Tencho Hristov
  • BBF – Desislava Zhivkova, Elitsa Ivanova, Radostina Tsenova, Rosen Vasilev
  • IARSJ – Yana Mihaylova
  • WWF – Lora Zherbil, Rayna Popova

Kindly supported by

Special thanks

Aleksandar Ganchev, Alexander Iliev Eppler, Bogdan Darev, Vanyo Kostin, Vladimir Ivanov, Gabriela Petrova, Grozdan Popov, dr. Petyo Krastev, Dobromir Domuschiev, Elena Tilova, Zhivko Dzhakov, Ivan Atanasov, Yordanka Dineva, Katya Marchovska, Kancho Petkov, Lora Zhebril, Magdalena Madzharova, Marina Nikolova, Milen Stanev, Milena Nenova, Petya Sheremetova, posetiteli na lektsia “Prouchvane i opazvane na prilepite v Bulgaria”, prof. dr. Vasil Nikolov, Kulovi, Tsonevi, Tsonchevi, Silvia Ivanova, Simeon Moev, Stoyan Nikolov, Tanya Nacheva, Teodor Pushkarov, Totka Dencheva, Chonka Popova, Hotel Edva Li Ne

Footage of wild wolf courtesy of Bogdan Boev

Free sound effects licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 courtesy of Ohrwurm, Hazure, Ross Craig and Jormarp and provided by FreeSound.org

The film was produced between May and September 2015 on locations entirely in Bulgaria: Chiprovtsi, Zhelezna, Dolni Lom, Replyana, Chuprene, Belogradchik, peshtera Magura, Rabisha, Vishnevo, Sofia, Tryavna, Prohod Shipka, Rozova dolina, Kalofer, Vasil Levski, Mrachenik, Podbalkanski pat, Rozino, Kozi rog, Tarhovo, Markov stol peak, Ispolin peak, Uzana, Balkantsi hut, Stomanetsite, Breze, Zasele, Zimevitsa, Sarbenitsa peak, Rayskoto praskalo, Botev peak, Ambaritsa hut, Prevala, Borov Kamak, Falkovets, Gorna Luka, Melyane, Aldomirovsko blato, Zheleznitsa, Studen kladenets dam, Teteven

Music score

The original music score of For the Balkan & the People was kindly granted by its author and copyright holder Alexander Iliev Eppler:

Ruchenitsa za tambura

  • Composed by Alexander Iliev Eppler
  • Performed by Virginia Russel, tambura & Alexander Iliev Eppler, piano
  • Production Jack Straw Productions
  • Sound engineer Doug Haire
  • All copyrights reserved by Alexander Iliev Eppler © 2015

Chetvorno horo

  • Composed by Alexander Iliev Eppler
  • Performed by Teodora Dimitrova, tambura & Virginia Russel, tambura
  • Production Jack Straw Productions
  • Sound engineer Doug Haire
  • All copyrights reserved by Alexander Iliev Eppler © 2016

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* Last updated – 17 May 2017.

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